Margaret Greenwood MP has highlighted the failure of the Health Minister, Philip Dunne, to answer key questions on restrictions on access to certain NHS treatments in Wirral after she challenged him to act following the announcement in February by Wirral CCG of new restrictions on access to certain kinds of clinical care.
The restrictions are in specialties such as IVF, dermatology, keyhole shoulder surgery, cosmetic procedures, ENT and urology. A detailed list together with exceptions can be found at https://www.wirralccg.nhs.uk/news/nhs-wirral-ccg-governing-body-meeting-7th-february-2017/
Patients may still be able to access treatment by making an ‘individual funding request’ if they are ‘clinically exceptional.’
Margaret Greenwood MP received a reply from the Minister today, 2nd May, the day that Parliament is dissolved for the General Election.
Margaret Greenwood commented:
“The Minister promised a considered response after I expressed serious concerns about new restrictions introduced in Wirral on access to certain kinds of NHS clinical care.
“After a lengthy delay it has finally arrived, but it fails to answer key questions.
“I am concerned that these new restrictions on care make the process more bureaucratic and introduce uncertainty for patients on whether they will qualify.
“A patient may still qualify if they are ‘clinically exceptional’ but it is unclear what that would mean in practice.
“Wirral CCG, like health services throughout the UK, is clearly under immense financial pressure. The leaders of NHS Trusts warned the government as recently as the end of April that the NHS needs an emergency cash injection of £25bn over the next 3 years.
“My concern is that restrictions on access to certain kinds of care could lead to some people being able to afford them whilst other people have to prove they are clinically exceptional to qualify.
“The NHS was created by the post-war Labour government in July 1948 to provide care that was free at the point of delivery on the basis of clinical need, not of ability to pay.
“The Minister has failed to answer the concerns I raised and the danger is that those founding principles of the NHS are being undermined by restrictions on care.
“Clinical decisions should always be based on clinical need.”