Councillor Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Councillor for Maida Vale and Shadow Cabinet Member for Families and People Services, has written to the Central London Clinical Commissioning Group, to speak out against the CCG plans to cut Health services for Older People:
“I’m writing to you in my role as Shadow cabinet member for Familes and People Services and the Labour Group. We understand that Central London CCG is pulling out of funding 4 Westminster Older Hubs in 2019/20. We are aware that the level of funding is around £132,000, which will significantly reduce provision for older people. We are not aware of any consultation on the impact of these proposals – either with the immediate users, their carers, 3rd sector agencies or elected members. The immediacy of the proposals appears to be against accepted practices.
The hubs support older people in Westminster wards that have the highest levels of deprivation and some of the poorest and isolated older people in our community. The services they provide contribute to their physical and emotional health. We understood that the services are so popular that some clients have been placed on a waiting list to access this support. These cuts add to reductions in other front-line services such as nail cutting and the advice to GPs to stop prescribing some common drugs and remedies.
We acknowledge the NHS is facing great financial challenges, particularly as Central London CCG is deemed to over-capitated and is therefore, likely to experience very low increases in its annual budgets. We also note the many challenges that exist in providing services for people in Central London – particularly to a very diverse and often very deprived population and that calculations being made in forming budgets do not take sufficiently account for these needs. Westminster Council is also facing great financial challenges, and even greater real cuts to budgets are expected in the next few years as government reduces funding to London Boroughs.
However, we would like to emphasise that reducing such preventative measures for older people may turn out to be a false economy and goes against current thinking in investing in health and wellbeing initiatives. As you may know, the recent evaluation by Open Age concluded that as a result of these services, up to half of the older people using the hubs had reduced their attendances at local GP practices. In West London CCG, the Social Return On Investment (SROI) evaluation on the social prescribing service ‘My Care My Way’ proved that providing activities for older people was a cost effective way of reducing health treatment activity – an 11.5% reduction in hospital admissions, providing £2.80 of social value for each £1 spent.
The cuts in the services provided by the hubs comes at a time when Central London CCG is committing to social prescribing. However, in order for social prescribing to be effective, appropriate services for older people to use must be available. We are therefore, inviting CCGs to carry out a SROI evaluation on the existing hubs, in the context of the above and the imminent introduction of Primary Care Networks and social prescribing. We also recommend that the evaluation should assess whether reducing expenditure in this way is likely to increase use of local GP services and admissions to local hospitals.
We note that Section 75 joint funding between the local authorities and the NHS was used to introduce the hubs in an attempt to pool funds to provide integrated services. The 10-year plan supports further integration of services and an increased focus in prevention. Cuts in much needed support in community infrastructure services are a short-term and regressive policy.
Councillor Nafsika Butler-Thalassis
Councillor for Maida Vale
Shadow Cabinet Member for Families and People Services”