Following your publication on 16th March of the article with the worrying headline, ‘ Rationing of health services starts to bite across the district’, Horsham Labour Party wrote to the County Times expressing our concerns that the guiding principal of the NHS, i.e. that is is free at the point of need, is no longer being operated across our district.
Your article reported that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) responsible for funding local health services has, apparently, identified a number of ‘minor’ treatments that will no longer be routinely available. We said in our letter that we intended to meet Horsham MP Jeremy Quin, to express our concerns at this new development and to state our desire to see that the NHS is properly funded and that everyone in need of treatment, however minor, receives it in a timely manner, free at the point of need.
Last Friday Labour Party members, including three health care professionals who dedicated all of the working lives to the NHS, met Jeremy Quin to discuss this massively important issue. Jeremy Quin tried to reassure us that everyone who needed NHS care, however minor, would still receive it. His interpretation of the CCG’s announcement, was that it is simply undertaking a housekeeping exercise to bring its practises in line with others across the County.
He asserted that the practise of ‘individual funding requests’ made by GPs allowed treatments, such as cosmetic surgery, that ordinarily would not be funded by the NHS to go ahead.
Our concerns however, are that a CCG, which is massively overspent, is sending out the message that many ‘minor’ NHS treatments will now not be funded and therefore, those who can afford to, are being encouraged to seek private provision. Our further concern is that those who cannot afford to go private may well go without treatment altogether.
Since we wrote to the County Times, a number of people have contacted us about their experiences which are clearly at odds with Jeremy Quin’s understanding of the situation locally and more in line with the situation reported in the County Times.
In view of this clear discrepancy in understanding, we obtained an agreement from Jeremy Quin that he would seek clarification on the funding criteria for ‘minor’ treatments. This would clarify whether arbitrary decision making on the part of the CCG is taking place.
At present, we are yet to be convinced that the CCG’s approach is not the thin end of a privatisation wedge which will see increasing number of services no longer available via the NHS.
We would, therefore, be interested to learn of anyone who has been refused treatments or indeed if any of your readers have experienced unacceptable delays in receiving treatments, so that we can continue challenging these decisions in the light of Jeremy Quin’s comments. We can be contacted on the following email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair, Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham