Health service rationing: New figures for Crawley

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Rationing of a range of NHS health treatments has remained unchanged across Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex - despite increased rationing in other parts of the country.

New figures released by local health chiefs show that there has been a slight increase in the numbers of people underoing life-changing cataract, knee and hip surgery in the district over the past year.

The figures are in contrast to the rest of England which has seen a 45 per cent increase in the numbers of people being denied such operations.

Currently, the Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups - which pays for NHS services - requires people needing such surgery to fulfil certain criteria before the ops can go ahead.

If they do not meet the criteria, the patients’ GPs can request ‘exceptional funding’ from the commissioning groups to carry out the surgery.

An investigation by the British Medical Journal has revealed a sharp rise nationally in rejected requests. They say nearly 1,700 patients were denied the surgery in England last year – 45 per cent more than the previous year.

But it is a different picture locally. A spokesman for the Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex clinical commissioning groups said that no requests for exceptional funding for cataract ops, or knee or hip surgery had been made in the local area in 2016/17, nor 2017/18.

Figures show that in 2016/17, a total of 1,933 cataract operations were carried out in the district which rose to 2,024 for 2017/18.

The number of hip operations increased from 483 in 2016/17 to 529 in 2017/18. However, the number of knee operations fell slightly from 400 two years ago to 353 last year.

Cataract, knee and hip operations remain among a list of procedures that are no longer routinely funded by the NHS in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex.

Other procedures also being limited include haemorrhoid removal, skin lesion treatment, female sterilisation, hysterectomies and treatment for varicose veins, among others. However, the commissioning groups say there is no ‘blanket ban.’

The Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex groups - which have been placed in ‘special measures’ by NHS England after being rated ‘inadequate’ because of massive overspending - say they “do not have the resources to meet all these demands” and therefore have to make “difficult choices about which treatments/services represent the best use of finite resources.”