suspended chief operating officer leaves

Officers in charge of buying healthcare across the borough have spoken out against the ‘scale of savings proposed’ in Cheshire East Council’s next budget, writes Stephen Topping.

The local authority ran its pre-budget consultation for 2019-20 last autumn, and revised proposals will be put before councillors later this month to be signed off.

But Clare Watson, chief officer at NHS South Cheshire clinical commissioning group (CCG), and Alex Mitchell, interim chief officer at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, have raised concerns about the draft budget.

In a letter sent to Mark Palethorpe, strategic director of adult social care and health at CEC, the pair say they ‘recognise the very real pressures’ CEC faces in setting its budget – but fear the savings proposed could cause problems.

“The impact of a reduction in central funding coupled with an increase in the numbers of elderly residents means that difficult choices will be needed,” it said.

“The CCGs welcome the commitment to set aside funds for the council’s health budget. It is pleasing to note no reductions are planned on long term care placements nor on domiciliary and home care.

“However, the CCGs are very concerned about the scale of savings proposed in 2019-20 and the impact of these proposals will have on local services.”

In particular, the CCGs are concerned about a possible £500,000 saving from reviewing the council’s children’s services contracts.

In the letter, the two officers said: “We would support efforts to deliver those services more efficiently but would be concerned if these proposals resulted in a reduction in support and care for vulnerable children.

“We are particularly concerned with changes to early intervention contracts that support children and young people in a number of innovative ways both in schools and out.”

They are also concerned about possible cuts to the independent living fund, the One You Cheshire East service and to the community equipment service – which they claim could become a ‘false economy with expensive unintended consequences’.

However, the CCGs have welcomed plans for investment into adult social care, especially support for elderly residents.

CEC will receive no Revenue Support Grant from the Government in 2019-20 – compared to the £40 million it received in 2015-16.

The local authority will sign off its final budget for 2019-20 at the full council meeting on Thursday, February 21.

Cheshire East Council declined to comment.

One Comment

  1. Janet Clowes says:

    Fortunately these issues were discussed with CCG partners at length and the Council’s mitigation plans discussed. These include a ring-fenced 1% council tax rise to address Childrens services concerns and clarifying that the Independent Living Fund is actually a Government Grant that has been phased out over several years. These services are now incorporated into individual care plans. The One You and Community Equipment services are due to be recommissioned and the savings will be made from better administration NOT cuts to the frontline service. These new contracts will also work collaboratively with our health partners which will also improve efficiency savings.

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