Redbridge councillors grill health bosses over £55m overspend


NHS STAFF - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Councillors fear losing their influence over healthcare in Redbridge after NHS England took control of the borough’s cash strapped Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Members grilled health bosses over the state of the CCG’s finances at a health scrutiny committee meeting last night.

Last month, Redbridge CCG was put under performance management by NHS England after making a financial loss, and councillors now fear they will lose any say in where cuts will be made.

And the scale of the problem was revealed at Redbridge Town Hall, when papers presented by the CCG revealed the Barking, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) CCGs would overspend by £55million this year if cuts were not made.

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Neil Zammett (Lab, Chadwell), expressed his fear that greater involvement from NHS England would see the council’s influence in local healthcare wane.

“Effectively it is NHS England who are pulling the strings and calling the shots now,” he said.

“If you’re picking off Redbridge’s CCG you’re picking us off as well.”

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But speaking on behalf of NHS England, Ceri Jacob said: “Everybody accepts the interplay between health and social care and the importance of the work being done between local authorities and CCGs.

“I don’t see us coming up against one another in any awkward situations, but the only way it might happen is where we might undermine you where investments are not being made to save.

“If the CCG is embarked on a program of works with the council and there is no tangible return on our investment then that is something we would need to look at.”

Cllr Suzanne Nolan (Con, Snaresbrook) told the committee she feared the group was losing sight of its purpose.

“It’s all well and good talking about numbers and savings,” she said. “But let’s not forget that these are human lives we are talking about.”

And that was a sentiment echoed by Cllr Ross Hatfull (Lab, Valentines), who said: “My concern is that when you make cuts of this size in such a short period, realistically you are talking about cuts to front line services.”

But Tom Travers, BHR CCGs’ chief financial officer, assured the health scrutiny committee that any crucial decisions would be made collaboratively.