Rationing of health services starts to bite across the district

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A range of health treatments are now being rationed to people in Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex.

Patients are being told that ‘minor’ operations - from investigative joint surgery, haemorrhoid removal, skin lesion treatment and treatment for varicose veins - are no longer being routinely funded by the NHS.

There are also restrictions on a number of other conditions including cataract removals, female sterilisation and hysterectomies.

The Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups - which are responsible for paying for local health services - have drawn up a ‘list of clinical policies’ outlining the treatments which will no longer be routinely funded.

The list was highlighted following a public plea for help to the commissioning groups from a desperate woman who had been told that she was ineligible for treatment for her varicose veins unless she paid for private treatment.

She told the health body: “At the moment due to my case I am unable to work, therefore cannot gather the money to get treatment privately.”

The commmissioning groups - which have been placed in ‘special measures’ by NHS England after being rated ‘inadequate’ because of massive overspend in their budgets - say they have “designated a number of procedures as low priority for NHS funding.

“The CCGs are under significant financial pressure to provide funds for all treatments, or preventive measures, for all patients in its area. The CCG does not have the resources to meet all these demands. Therefore it has to make difficult choices about which treatments/services represent the best use of its finite resources.”

However, health chiefs say there is no ‘blanket ban’ and that individual funding requests can be made to the CCGs by patients’ GPs, whose practices are separately funded by the NHS.

Members of the Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning groups met yesterday to finalise a ‘financial recovery plan.’ Finance director Mark Baker said that they expected to face a £35million funding gap this year.

Crawley needed to make six per cent savings and Horsham and Mid Sussex needed to find savings of eight per cent.

Horsham and Mid Sussex commissioning group chairman Dr Minesh Patel, said: “We know we have very difficult choices to make as to what our local NHS has the resources to do – we can do anything but we cannot do everything.”

The Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex CCGs have now joined forces with governing health bodies of Brighton and Hove, East Surrey and High Weald Lewes Havens to form a joint alliance to streamline processes.