Funding for groups which provide vital support to elderly and vulnerable residents in the High Peak could be withdrawn as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in Derbyshire look to make £80m in savings.
While still at the consultation stage, if approved the cuts would represent a huge financial blow to charities such as Voluntary and Community Services Peaks and Dales, which depends on grants for services such as its befriending scheme and volunteer transport provision.
Gill Geddes, CEO of the charity, said: “While we had been anticipating a cut in our funding, we had not expected all funding to be removed. This would in essence remove an essential lifeline for many vulnerable people.
“Many services directly contribute towards reducing hospital admissions and facilitating earlier and safer hospital discharges.
“The proposed cuts seem to contradict all previous commitments from the CCG towards ‘Better Care, Closer to Home’ and a recognition that the voluntary sector is a key partner in helping achieve this.
“This seems to be a very short sighted solution to solve an immediate funding crisis. The loss of low level preventative support services will in time transfer to increased demand on acute services.”
Nigel Caldwell, Manager of High Peak Community & Voluntary Support, agreed. He said: “The grant funding cut represents as much as 30 per cent of income, so this seriously threatens our charities’ services.”
Karen Ritchie, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Derbyshire – the organisation which ensures patients, service users and members of the public have a say in the design and delivery of services, said: “Healthwatch Derbyshire has very real fears that the wider views and experiences of patients and members of the public will not be taken into account during the implementation of the financial recovery plan, over the course of this year.”
The NHS in Derby and Derbyshire is currently facing an estimated gap of £80 million between the money received for services and the cost of providing them.
A spokesman for NHS Derbyshire CCG said: “We’ve been talking with voluntary groups across the county for some time to make them aware of the significant financial challenge we’re facing.
“In this context we’ve been considering our ability to continue funding discretionary services across all sectors and over the last few months the four Derbyshire CCG Governing Bodies have been closely looking at what is commissioned.
“Governing bodies have concluded, in principle, that CCGs are no longer able to fund discretionary grants awarded to the voluntary sector, voluntary community sectors infrastructure support services, and Voluntary Sector Single Point of Access (vSPA).
“A formal “engagement” began last week, following on from the previous conversations we’ve had with voluntary organisations, and we’re now asking them for detailed feedback about the potential impact of discontinuing funding for these services, and their volunteers, staff and service users, ahead of any final decision being made in August.
“We appreciate this is a very difficult and concerning time for the groups and we are going to continue to work closely with them to identify and where possible mitigate any areas of risk identified.
“Subject to a decision being taken in August, no scheme would receive a notice period of less than three months.”
• The CCG has organised stakeholder events to inform people about the CCG cuts and their financial position. The meeting in Buxton will take place on Monday, July 16, 6.30pm, at Buxton Methodist Church.