Funding crisis opens new opportunities for Bucks health and care services

Buckinghamshire’s Health & Wellbeing Board meets to bring together the leaders in the county’s health and social care services. It works to ensure that all residents, be they adults or children, receive the most appropriate care.

At last Thursday’s meeting of the Board (28 January), the serious financial situation facing both the County Council and the NHS dominated proceedings. The meeting heard how big reductions to Buckinghamshire County Council’s government grant, at a time of growing demand for adult social care and children’s safeguarding services, was presenting challenges not experienced in recent times. At the same time the NHS is facing demands to make savings to try and address growing deficits.

Despite the unprecedented nature of the challenges being faced, the NHS and County Council leaders present identified the situation as a unique moment in which to rethink the way many health and social care services work together.

Martin Tett, chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board and leader of Bucks County Council, said: “There just isn’t any way that we can maintain ‘business as usual’ in our health and adult social care services. And although things do look pretty grim financially, hand-wringing isn’t going to help – instead we have to be bold, seize the opportunity, and find new ways to work together so that every pound we spend buys the greatest benefit for our more vulnerable residents.

“For example, we can examine ways we can work better together to share buildings, buy services together and jointly enable people to either remain out of hospital or leave hospital earlier back to their own homes.”

Annet Gamell, Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Chiltern CCG, said: “While the financial situation facing Buckinghamshire is not ideal, it does present us with an exciting opportunity to bring health and social care services even closer together and to rethink and improve the way certain services are delivered.

“We need to be mindful about making efficiencies where possible but we are determined to make sure that any changes made to the delivery of these services will be ones that help us to improve people’s experience of care within the county – we have no intention of allowing financial concerns to impact upon the high quality of care our patients receive.

“It is also essential for these changes to support people in making the right lifestyle choices for themselves, so they can lead healthier lives and prevent the onset or worsening of serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease for as long as possible.”