Ex-health minister Norman Lamb wants single body to local health and social care

Norman Lamb MP. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norman Lamb MP. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A former government minister hopes the new health plan for Norfolk and Waveney will be a step towards reducing the number of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the region.

Norman Lamb, a health minister between 2012 and 2015, said it made 'no sense' for Norfolk and Waveney to have five CCGs (NHS groups which pay for our healthcare).

He called for a 'single commissioner' to fund both health and social care and said he was hopeful the health plan (known as the STP) would move in that direction.

In the last two days this newspaper has revealed how local health bosses are set to introduce countywide changes to the way health and social care is provided – through a five-year plan known as the Sustainability and Transformation Plan.

This is necessary because Norfolk's NHS faces a £0.5bn deficit by 2020/21 if current trends continue and no savings are made.

We also showed how CCGs have cut certain services in a bid to make much-needed savings – yet spending on senior chiefs' wages in Norfolk and Waveney has risen by 14pc to nearly £4m in the last three years.

The CCGs say they are already sharing many services to save money.

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Mr Lamb stressed his vision was no reflection of the people working for the CCGs.

'I don't think it makes sense to have so many CCGs,' he said.

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'Is it realistic to recruit five sets of brilliant senior managing teams in every CCG?

'I think you risk duplicating the administrative back room operation.

'We should have a single pot of money for more health and social care by 2018 with a single commissioner where that commissioner puts in place integrated packages of care, particularly for patient groups such as the frail and elderly, and mental health patients.

'I'm hopeful during the STP process we will go in that direction. It's something I intend to pursue with health and social care leaders in Norfolk.'

Social care is currently paid for and provided by Norfolk County Council.

Speaking publicly earlier this summer Dr Wendy Thomson, the council's managing director who is also leading the STP discussions, said 'nothing was off the table' in terms of planning and designing the region's future healthcare.

Both she and the chief executive of a local health scrutinising body are calling for a public debate about how healthcare should be provided.

Alex Stewart, of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: 'What is really needed is an open and honest debate, that involves the public, about the health services we need, what as a county and a nation we can afford and how best to provide them – but that's hard to do.'

A public consultation is set to be launched next month in which the public will be asked for their views.

Have you got a health story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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