Health bosses accused of cutting services by stealth

Patients and doctors in Bristol are accusing NHS Bristol Clinical Commission Group of attempting to cut health services without proper consultation.

NHS Bristol CCG is currently proposing to cut a number of services including IVF treatment for women over 35, breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients and the homeopathy service, currently provided by the medical staff at the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine (PCIM).

Supporters of the threatened services say the CCG failed to adequately publicise their proposals and give patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders sufficient time to raise objections.

Dr Elizabeth Thompson, clinical lead at the PCIM, says: “These changes directly affect the patients and staff at the PCIM and the first we heard about the CCG’s ‘consultation’ was on Tuesday – just six days before the closing date for responses – from a GP who had received a letter from a lobby group calling on him to support the CCG’s proposals.”

She also questions the timing of the consultation. “If Bristol CCG is genuinely interested in the views of patients on the future of these services – why then did it launch its so-called consultation during the school summer holidays when so many people are away?”

The British Homeopathic Association, a charity that supports patient choice in healthcare, is also critical of the CCG, with chief executive Cristal Sumner accusing it of “cutting services by stealth”.

She says the CCG is legally obliged to conduct a proper consultation on any proposed change to service provision. “Clearly the CCG has failed to engage with patients on these changes, which brings the legitimacy of any future decision based on the consultation into question. The CCG is cutting services by stealth and introducing health rationing for the people of Bristol.

“This goes beyond whether you believe homeopathy should be available on the NHS or not. It is about the accountability of CCGs and the rights of patients, who will lose these services, to have their voices heard.”

But it isn’t just Bristol hoping to decommission homeopathy …. Enfield CCG also undertook a consultation earlier this year and if Enfield decommissions homeopathic services, Camden, Islington, Barnet and Haringey will surely follow suit. And will it stop at homeopathy, or will other complementary medicine services be next? Then what future for the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine.

Friends of the RLHIM

side view of RLHIM from Queen Square parkAs patients, we want to receive the best standard of care, delivered by regulated health professionals in a safe environment. The Government wants to develop an innovative, patient-centred national health service.

The Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) fulfils both these objectives; it is a flagship for integrated medicine and a jewel in the crown of the NHS, providing high quality medical care, delivered by fully qualified conventional medical practitioners.

The RLHIM would not be the same without the dedicated support of the members and volunteers of the Friends, which is a Registered Charity and voluntary organisation run for the benefit of patients and staff of the hospital.

If, like us, you have enjoyed attending the hospital and wish to retain your current access to complementary therapies on the NHS, or you would like to in the future, please become a member of the Friends and help us to protect the status of the RLHIM.

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