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Commitment to spend £300,000 saved in foot and ankle services in Norfolk on other NHS services

A doctor examining a foot. Photo: ThinkStock

A doctor examining a foot. Photo: ThinkStock

AlexRaths

Health chiefs have vowed to spend £300,000 taken out of a budget for community foot and ankle services on other areas of the NHS.

It comes after concerns were raised over changes in the biomechanics department at Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCHC).

The service provides assessment and treatment of problems relating to abnormal foot structure and function.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in north Norfolk, south Norfolk and Norwich said there had been a fall in the number of patients using the service, and a new way of referring had seen a further reduction still.

This meant £300,000 could be saved and would instead “go towards other areas of patient care or reduce the need for cost savings elsewhere”.

But worried stakeholders said clinics were full and a waiting list was in operation, whilst at the same time staff were being laid off or deskilled.

One concerned person said: “All the biomechanics specialist clinicians have full clinics and a waiting list – so if the department is going to be reduced by 50pc who will see all these patients? What will happen to waiting list? Patients’ safety and quality of service will be compromised as appointment times will have to be reduce to meet demand.”

Another added: “The biomechanics department run an excellent service, the clinicians have years of expertise, skills and knowledge which surely should be fully utilised.”

NCHC refused to comment when asked whether clinics were full or a waiting list was in operation. They also did not confirm if jobs would be cut, or how many. And said they could not comment on the deskilling of remaining staff.

But a spokesman said: “The service was remodelled using a capacity demand model on the basis of the referrals it has.”

And added: “NCHC is committed to meeting the service specification and the key performance indicators outlined in the specification (including shorter waiting times).”

A spokesman for the CCGs and NCHC said in a joint statement: “NCHC have undergone a consultation with staff and redesigned the service based on capacity demand modelling to ensure the service meets the new requirements. NCHC works continuously to transform services in order to deliver effective care that meet local demand.”

They added: “The £300,000 that has been saved across north Norfolk, south Norfolk and Norwich, by introducing a better way of providing this service, can go towards other areas of patient care or reduce the need for cost savings elsewhere. We believe this is better for patients and is a better use of NHS resources.”

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