Health cuts will hit the most vulnerable, claims patients’ group

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MOUNTING cuts to health services in Sheffield are ‘unsustainable’ and will be felt by the most vulnerable people in the city, it has been warned.

The total number of NHS staff in the region has been slashed by nearly 6,000 between May 2010 and September last year, whereas in the South East only 612 workers have been lost.

Numbers of nursing, midwifery and health visitor staff have also dropped by 1,512 over the last two years – but have actually increased in the south by 233.

Tough decisions have also had to be made about care for the elderly in Sheffield as the cuts bite.

Two dementia care centres – Norbury, in Norwood, and Bole Hill View in Crookes, are set to close within the next 12 months, in a bid to save the council £835,000.

Mike Smith, chair of Sheffield LINk, which encourages patient and public involvement in the NHS, said: “Sheffield LINk has seen the effect that government funding decisions have brought to local health and social care services.

“We feel that although local service providers have worked hard to try to minimise the effects on services so far, we know that this cannot be sustained and that it is the most vulnerable people in Sheffield who will bear the brunt of these cuts.”

The Government is also considering changing the way the NHS is funded.

Leaders of the Fair Deal For Sheffield campaign claim the city’s health services would lose £73m per year – more than eight per cent of its budget – while Surrey would get an extra £400m, almost 27 per cent of its existing budget.

NHS funding is currently allocated on the basis of ‘age, population size, health need and deprivation’.

But during a speech last April, the former Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, said only age and population size should be taken into account and not deprivation.

NHS Sheffield Primary Care Trust – the guardian of the city’s NHS spending – declined to comment on the Fair Deal campaign.

From this week, the duty of commissioning health services for people in Sheffield became the responsibility of a Clinical Commissioning Group.

The group – made up of 18 health professionals – received a delegated budget of £709m in October 2011, and is now working on a plan for commissioning health services in future years.