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Revealed: Essex CCG’s plan to save £1.7m


22 December 2015

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Mid Essex has revealed the details of their plan to save nearly £1.7m by cutting the services available to patients, including gluten-free foods, hearing aids for people with mild hearing loss, vasectomy and female sterilisation and GP-accessed physiotherapy.

Mid Essex has revealed the details of their plan to save nearly £1.7m by cutting the services available to patients, including gluten-free foods, hearing aids for people with mild hearing loss, vasectomy and female sterilisation and GP-accessed physiotherapy.

By cutting gluten-free food prescriptions they will save £100,000, cutting hearing aids for those with mild hearing loss is estimated to save £335,000, stopping vasectomies and sterilisation on the NHS is set to save £256,000 and ending any GP-accessed physiotherapy could save £1 million.

In terms of physiotherapy, if patients self-funded physiotherapy treatment it would save £1 million for the CCG, but private physiotherapy costs £40 for initial consultation, and £40 for each follow-on treatment which may be difficult for some people to afford.

Instead they may offer telephone advice only, saving £825,000, or limit the service to one assessment and one follow-up, saving £600,000.

In January all feedback from service users will be gathered, and a draft outcome report will be given to Mid Essex CCG; the group’s decision will be announced at the governing body meeting on 28 January.

The CCG wants to cut gluten-free food prescriptions, stating that it is readily available, and lower cost to the public than the NHS (gluten-free bread costs £2.90 at the supermarket, but costs the NHS £3.41 to prescribe). Furthermore, in January 2014, the CCG restricted prescribing of gluten-free foods to bread and flour and also reduced the number of units from 16 to 8 per month. The costs of prescribing reduced as a result of this policy, but over the last 12 months the CCG has still spent over £100,000 on gluten-free food prescriptions.

Hearing aids for those with mild hearing loss could also be cut, as 4,203 fitted in 2014/15, costing £1.16m for the CCG. Patients would still be given an audiogram conducted by an audiologist to discover the level of their hearing loss, but would self-fund their hearing aid, which costs from around £500.

On average, 416 men each year have a vasectomy on the NHS in mid Essex, and 36 women are sterilised, costing £256,600 annually. Instead, these people will have to self-fund this service privately, if the plan is approved, and vasectomy’s will cost between £295 to £1,167.

This year, the CCG needs to make £15.7m of savings to help get back into financial balance, and it would still need to repay £24.9 million.

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