Docs blast decision to cut volunteer funds

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High Peak GPs have slammed a decision to cut voluntary services for the frail and elderly by £100,000 - saying they ‘will cost the NHS considerably more in the long term’.

In a letter addressed to council health bosses Drs Blackburn and Gor from Hayfield’s Old Bank Surgery told how the cuts would affect ‘elderly, frail and isolated’ patients.

The doctors wrote how the loss of services earmarked for cuts such as community transport and befriending will impact on GPs and other already overstretched health and care services.

Their letter - backed by a number of other surgeries in the borough - criticises Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision which comes with ‘little to no direct consultation with us as individual GPs nor our practices’.

The doctors wrote: “Community Transport is often the only option for patients to attend medical appointments where there is no public transport and they cannot afford a taxi. Their local driver offers companionship as well as a driving service and helps keep an eye on frail patients.

“The befriending service is appreciated by people who are isolated and often lonely.

“Their regular social contact gives them something to look forward to and helps to prevent depression which affects their physical health as well.

“The services are extremely cost-effective and while the cuts may bring some small short term gain they will cost the NHS considerably more in the long term.”

High Peak MP Ruth George is calling on Derbyshire County Council to refer the decision to the Government’s Health Secretary.

She said: “The decision doesn’t make sense - either for the welfare of patients or for saving the NHS money. Volunteers help patients to keep well and stay out of hospital.”