• Harrogate and Rural District CCG announces new measures to help it make £8.4m of savings
  • Proposals include getting obese patients and smokers to lose weight or quit for six months before being considered for operations
  • The CCG was one of 10 rated “outstanding” by NHS England in July

Obese patients and smokers will have to try to lose weight or quit smoking for six months before being considered for operations under a Yorkshire CCG’s plans to save £8m.

Harrogate and Rural District CCG continues to forecast a cumulative surplus for the end of this year but it announced in August that the increasing demands of a growing and ageing population were putting a strain on its £190m programme allocation for this financial year.

The CCG, which was one of 10 rated “outstanding” by NHS England in July, has to make £8.4m of savings this year.

Following a “thorough review” of the services it commissions, the CCG today announced a number of measures to make savings, including:

  • offering all people who have a BMI of 30 or more, or who smoke, a referral to either a weight management programme or smoking cessation services for six months before being considered for an operation;
  • reviewing follow-up appointments to reduce unnecessary hospital visits; and
  • working with GPs and community pharmacies to reduce the cost of prescribing medicines and number of GP visits where medication can be accessed quicker and more cheaply at pharmacies and supermarkets

Vale of York CCG came under fire last month for announcing that patients with a BMI of 30+ or who smoke would face delays in receiving some non-urgent surgery for up to a year. Following the backlash, the CCG has since announced it is reviewing the proposals.

Harrogate and Rural CCG had a QIPP target of £5m for 2015-16 and stressed it already has plans in place to meet the £8.4m savings plan this financial year.

However, it said the new measures would ensure it meets its statutory financial duty following rising demand for services and the increasing cost of care.

The CCG said the number of people attending emergency departments between April and June was 2.7 per cent higher than in the same period last year – adding an unplanned cost of £125,000. During the same period there was a 14 per cent spike year on year in knee procedures, leading to an unplanned cost of £160,000.

Chief officer Amanda Bloor said the review of services was based on clinical evidence and the new measures encouraged people to take greater responsibility for their health.

She added: “The CCG is not saying patients can’t have the surgery. By introducing a six month health optimisation period, we are encouraging and supporting patients to undertake a lifestyle change which will provide them with the best possible clinical outcome.

“The NHS spends around £9bn a year on patient care for those living with diabetes and with spending on obesity related ill health and smoking related illness increasing year on year, these measures will help protect the future finances of the CCG and the wider local health economy.”

North Yorkshire County Council’s director of public health, Lincoln Sargeant, said stopping smoking and losing weight reduced the surgical risk involved in operations as well as improving people’s general health and wellbeing.