Support services under threat after cash-strapped health bosses axe £7m of funding against county council’s wishes

Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Further cuts could be made to health and social care as Norfolk's council and NHS leaders remain locked in talks over an emerging £7m funding gap.

Negotiations are currently ongoing between representatives from the county's five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and Norfolk County Council - after the CCGs decided against funding

It means the county's already-squeezed social care budget could see further cuts, impacting on residents who rely on support services.

The issue arose when the five CCGs (Norwich CCG, South Norfolk CCG, West Norfolk CCG, North Norfolk CCG, and Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG) all decided againts making 'discretionary payments' to the county's Better Care Fund.

Set up in April 2015, the Better Care Fund is a pot of money which is spent on integrating health and social care services (a key aim for the government), which is funded jointly by the CCGs and Norfolk County Council.

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Last year the CCGs provided more than £50m to the fund, of which around £7m was a non-compulsory payment made in a bid to reduce unplanned hospital admissions.

This year the CCGs, who combined have to deliver savings of between £50m-£60m, have told council chiefs they cannot afford to fund the £7m payment - putting services under threat.

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It means the county is one of only a handful in England that has not completed its Better Care Fund plan, which was supposed to have been signed off on May 3.

If a deal to address the shortfall cannot be agreed then Department of Health officials will step in.

Both sides said it was too soon to give examples of services that may be axed without the £7m funding.

A spokesman for the council said: 'Given the pressures on the NHS and the County Council, due to increasing costs, increasing responsibilities and demands, and increasing complexity of the care we provide - this is a very difficult situation.

'If a similar level of funding is not committed this year, there would be an impact on the support provided in both health and social care services.

'We appreciate the financial pressures the health service is under and therefore we're still hopeful of finding a solution that will ensure social care services can be maintained in such a way that local services to the public won't be detrimentally affected.'

In a united statement, the five CCGs said: 'Discussions over finances continue in an amicable and constructive way to reach agreement, with all parties recognising the very great pressures that each are facing.

'We share a determination to ensure patient and client services are protected as far as possible through efficient and integrated working.'

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