It follows the one year anniversary of North Staffordshire CCG’s decision to restrict access to hearing services, criticised at the time by many organisations including the NCHA. Other local NHS CCGs, using the same priority setting process as North Staffordshire CCG, subsequently decided against rationing local hearing services.
The decision to refer North Staffordshire CCG’s decision follows comments made by Jeremy Hunt on the 18 October to the House of Commons Health Select Committee. As part of an evidence session, responding to questions from Sarah Wollaston MP, Jeremy Hunt said:
“When we hear evidence of rationing happening, we do something about it. It is very challenging on the frontline now for everyone, but we are very clear that the principle of the NHS is a service that is free at the point of use, and we are absolutely determined to give people the clinical care that they need.”
Jeremy Hunt also made clear that:
“We have to have a structured and planned way to find efficiency savings in a way that improves care for patients rather than making it worse … What we try to do from the centre is to send out a very strong signal that what we are looking for are not the easy efficiencies that can reduce the quality of care or access to services or treatments, but the efficiencies, of which there are many, that improve care.”
The NCHA will continue to track developments.