Possible services cash cut slammed

PUBLISHED: 16:59 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 25 August 2010

PROPOSALS to cut back spending on community services that were to compensate for axed A&E services in the borough have been condemned.

PROPOSALS to cut back spending on community services that were to compensate for axed A&E services in the borough have been condemned.

Bexley Care Trust board, which is due to meet next Tuesday, is considering reducing spending on projects including its polyclinic and GP-led health centre by more than £5 million.

The proposed reigning-in of community spending was cited by Bexley council as evidence that plans to axe services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, should be thrown out.

Sharon Massey, Bexley council's cabinet member for health, said: "We were told that while we would lose our A&E, we would also gain all these excellent community services. Now they're planning to cut millions from their budget that would have been spent on community services. It's unfair on residents.

"The PCT is in a difficult position because south-east London is so poorly funded. But I'm fearful we will have fewer services when this is all over."

The £5 million of 'prudent' investments to be excluded in next year's budget were outlined in the trust's last board meeting.

They included £1 million from the GP-led health centre, £1.8 million from the polyclinic planned to be built on the Queen Mary's Hospital (QMS) site. Stroke services could be reduced by £500,000, cardiology services by £200,000 and diabetes services could lose £453,000. The Independent Reconfiguration Panel which is currently reviewing APOH's plans to centralise vital services, was shown the possible spending cut as evidence that services should be saved at QMS.

A spokesman for Bexley Care Trust said: "We have no plans to reduce community service provision - Bexley Care Trust's policy is to increase investment in primary care services to ensure that patients can access services as close to home as possible.

"For instance, we are procuring for a new GP-led health centre in Slade Green, which will be additional to existing GP provision, and in the past year we have invested over £32 million in community healthcare projects including community nursing teams and diagnostic cardiology services in the community."

Bexley Care Trust's next public board meeting will be held next Tuesday at 9.30am in Danson Youth Centre, in Brampton Road, Bexleyheath.

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