New Health Secretary to be pressed on state of North Yorkshire’s NHS services

Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The bleak financial outlook facing the NHS in North Yorkshire and concerns for patients’ services is set to be laid before the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The county’s health watchdog said it would press Matt Hancock for an immediate answer to questions as both his predecessor, Jeremy Hunt, and Prime Minister Theresa May had failed to respond to appeals for action.

Councillor Jim Clark, chairman of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, said he would write to Mr Hancock calling for urgent action as documents had revealed the deficit facing the clinical commissioning’ groups (CCGs) that control NHS funding was continuing to rise this year.

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The committee has previously highlighted how groups commissioning NHS services in the county have for many years been unable to keep within their spending limits.

Despite concerted drives to cut spending, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby, Harrogate, Vale of York and Scarborough and Ryedale CCGs racked up a £46m deficit last year and are expected to go £30m into the red this year.

The CCGs have been reported to the Health Secretary for acting unlawfully by exceeding last year’s budgets, while the committee has raised concerns over the “chronic shortage of NHS staff”.

In addition, the Hambleton group will have to draw up a financial recovery plan and notify health chiefs should it wish to make any senior appointments after being placed in special measures.

Cllr Clark said while the threat of longer waiting lists, more rationing of services and hospital bed closures loomed for North Yorkshire residents, the Government did not appear to have understood the urgent nature of the situation.

He said Mr Hancock would be pressed to get stringent financial controls put in place by NHS England to oversee any additional money given to address the deficit.

Cllr Clark said while it appeared while the CCGs were set to cut their costs by more collaborative working, it remained unclear if any extra Government funding would be used effectively and efficiently and if taxpayers would get value for money.

The retired accountant said: “I have had no response from the Prime Minister, but four out of five of our CCGs are still acting unlawfully and this has got to be addressed. They are building up a considerable deficit again this year.

“The NHS are spending more and more money on management consultations, but the problem is that they can’t recruit medical consultants.

“Hopefully, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care might get the seriousness of the situation.”