Fears as Bucks misses out on winter health cash

Main entrance sign to Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Main entrance sign to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Council chiefs have expressed ‘concern’ after Bucks was denied a Government grant to deal with winter health pressures.

Following a bid by commissioning groups, it was hoped Bucks would receive £9.6 million. Instead, no money has been granted.

Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett has written to the health secretary asking the Government to reconsider the decision, while NHS groups said they were ‘disappointed’ not to secure funding.

While Bucks has not been allocated any of the £250m that was available, Oxfordshire got £10m and Berkshire £6m.

Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust is currently in ‘special measures’ and last winter there were ongoing issues in relation to the norovirus outbreak, with the council having to help out by providing more than £1m to ease pressures.

In council documents to be presented at a meeting this week, the authority’s health boss, Councillor Patricia Birchley, has said it is ‘unclear’ how the Government expects Bucks to implement measures designed to deal with winter pressures without the additional cash.

Ms Birchley said: “We do not agree with the rationale around making this available to some NHS Trusts and not others, as it was based on last year’s first quarter acute trust performance, which takes no account of the winter pressure and the associated performance, nor are the pressures isolated to A&E alone.

“This is even more disconcerting, given that our health system is extremely challenged, with our local acute trust under ‘special measures’ as an outcome of the Keogh Review and with a very challenging NHS financial position.”

The Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern clinical commissioning group has said ensuring ‘resilience’ in Bucks’ health service during the winter is a ‘challenge’.

However, the groups say they have been developing a number of measures to deal with the pressures, including ways of identifying more vulnerable patients and ensuring people know the right action to take when they have concerns about their health.