• Cambridgeshire community service cuts scaled back at special meeting
  • However, CCG faces £75m deficit and will have to find fresh savings to fill gap
  • Decision also pending on NHS-funded IVF

One of the NHS’ largest commissioning groups has radically reduced a package of community service cuts following pushback from providers and clinicians.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG last month set out controversial cuts to a range of community services, which it projected would save £2.8m in year and £6.7m in 2020-21.

The financially-embattled CCG needs to save £32.7m this year to hit its target of achieving a £75m deficit for 2019-20 – a huge deterioration from the £35m deficit it recorded last year.

It also originally planned to cut its NHS-funded IVF services – but rowed back on this just hours after HSJ reported the move was on the table, citing political pressure. It will decide the fate of the IVF services at its 6 August board meeting.

On Tuesday, however, the CCG rubber-stamped decisions around a batch of community services at a special board meeting to discuss community services.

It was also forced to rethink its community service cuts after providers, clinicians, and local politicians raised objections. The new proposed cuts will, however, only save £172,000 in year and £480,000 in 2020-21, significantly less than the £6.7m previously envisaged. This means it will have to come up with fresh savings plans to fill the gap.

The CCG board agreed a package to completely cease funding for Dial-a-ride, Health and Wellbeing Network, and Stroke Association services. Its Carer’s Network will be significantly cut back. It will also decommission a range of community ophthalmology and dermatology services.

It also agreed to postpone a decision on funding for The Alzheimer’s Society, The Evelyn Community Head Injury Service, and the Oliver Zangwill brain injury rehabilitation centre. It has pledged to “learn more” about the value these services add before taking a final decision on their fate.

The joint emergency team – a service which largely supports older people and those with long-term conditions provided by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust – has also been given a potential reprieve, although commissioners have demanded a “rapid redesign” to reduce its costs.

The CCG covers one of the NHS’ most financially-troubled health economies. The CCG is coterminous with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, which has a £192m planned deficit in 2019-20.

CCG clinical chair Gary Howsam said services in the health economy were under “unprecedented pressure” and this had forced the CCG into making “difficult decisions about the services we can afford to provide in the future”.

Dr Howsam said in a statement: “We need to save £1m a week… We have taken all new information into consideration, refined our proposals further, and this has changed some of the decisions we have made today.”

He added: “We are continuing to lobby government for fairer funding for our area so that we can invest in transforming and modernising services. We… would like to thank our local politicians for the support they have given us.”

A Cambridgeshire and Peterborough FT spokesman said: “We have worked closely with the CCG over the last two weeks and support their proposals.

“We will continue to work together over the redesign of the joint emergency team. It remains a highly effective service delivering community urgent care to patients in their own home. The further redesign is to improve utilisation and remove the areas of duplication.”