Brighton and Hove health chiefs look for £14m in-year savings

Health chiefs are looking for savings totalling £14.2 million across Brighton and Hove by the end of the financial year.

They hope that they can save enough by the end of next March by moving money around between budgets, chief finance officer Alan Beasley told a public consultation meeting.

Mr Beasley said that the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had been given more taxpayer money but that costs were rising a faster rate.

He said: “We’re not trying to cut spending but reduce the growth of demand in some services going forward.

“We are looking to spend differently as currently it is unsustainable.”

Mr Beasley, the CCG’s chief finance officer, said: “Spend on medicines is high and we need to cut down on waste as much as possible.”

He said that there was a need to review repeat prescriptions, for example, to check that patients who were given them needed them and were taking their medicines.

There had been cases of medicines being stockpiled in a cupboard “so when you open it, an avalanche comes out”.

Mr Beasley also said that the CCG was keen to put more money into local doctors’ surgeries and mental health services.

Emma Drew, from the Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre, was one of a handful of people who attended the drop-in meeting at St Richard’s Church, in Egmont Road, Hove.

She works with people who have long-term drug dependency through the Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre where she is the project director of the HERA (Healing, Expressive and Recovery Arts) project.

Ms Drew said that the Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre pharmacist was working with clinicians and patients to reduce reliance on costly medications when appropriate.

She said: “Working with pharmacies is going to need to be the strategic approach to bringing people off long-term medication they do not need.”

It was a record turnout for the CCG’s third finance drop-in session after a publicity push on social media.

All six visitors had experience and knowledge of the CCG’s work as members of patient participation groups (PPG) or working within the health field.

Hollingdean and Stanmer Labour councillor Tracey Hill was particularly keen to hear more about how the £14 million in savings would be made.

One issue raised was how difficult it was to find details about CCG spending.

Mr Beasley said that there was a breakdown on the CCGs website, which was eventually found in the report to the Central Sussex and East Surrey CCGs governing bodies meeting in common in public on Tuesday 25 September.

Other areas identified for savings include recycling equipment which should not be single use, reduced prescribing of anti-biotics and finding alternative treatments at a lower cost.

During the discussions the group agreed that there was a greater need for more young people in patient participation groups to make sure their interests were heard.

Mr Beasley said that when treatments were discussed by PPGs, the older members tended not to be interested in, for example, IVF.

He said that young people tended to be completely focused on mental health.

The next CCG public discussion is the Big Health and Care Conversation at Hove Town Hall on Friday 9 November.

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