At the start of the summer I promised to convene a public meeting to discuss the future of our local health economy in Erewash.
This was in response to reports that the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups face a budget shortfall in excess of £90 million and will need to make in-year savings equivalent to three percent of their total budget for 2018/19.
This meeting, which took place at Kirk Hallam Community Academy on Thursday, September 20, gave members of the public an opportunity to question key NHS decision makers about the savings and changes currently being considered, as well as to learn more about what potential impact these decisions may have on local health services in Erewash.
It was also purposely timed to take place after the school holiday season to ensure maximum attendance from both residents and panel members.
Whilst I am disappointed that the combined four CCGs, especially the one to the north of the county, have run up a substantial deficit, it was clear from what we heard at the meeting that savings can be found within our NHS locally, which will deliver both a better service for patients and value for money to the taxpayer.
In particular, I was extremely pleased that some of the dangerous rumours, especially regarding bed closures at Ilkeston Community Hospital from October 1, were ruled out by NHS bosses including Dr Chris Clayton, CEO of Derbyshire CCGs and William Jones, COO of Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust.
In addition, it was also confirmed by the panel that the recent decision to bring the opening hours of the minor injuries unit (MIU) at the Ilkeston Community Hospital in line with those based at Ripley, Buxton and Darley Dale was a strategic one rather than a decision based on finance.
This decision was taken following a study which showed that a low number of patients used Derbyshire’s MIUs between 8pm and 10pm - an average of just five people per hour across all sites.
More on this next week.