Vital community health services at risk

The Community Network has warned that vital community health services risk being tangled in bureaucratic contracts and face serious cuts unless the government steps in.

In its letter to the Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and for Housing, Communities and Local Government, co-signed by the chief executives of the Community Network's hosts the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, health leaders say local government’s £9.2 billion income shortfall this year will damage local authority-funded public health and community health services and they predict significant cuts will inevitably follow.

The Community Network is calling for a pause to time-consuming re-tendering of local authority contracts during the coronavirus emergency, arguing that competitive tendering will be a damaging distraction as community staff still grapple with the pandemic, aftercare for affected patients, restarting non-coronavirus services and planning for winter.

The letter says: "It is not reasonable or feasible to expect NHS staff and services still operating in a Level 4 incident to divert time and energy to take part in competitive tendering processes this financial year. Put simply, this is not the time to risk making qualified nurses redundant, or to damage morale by creating an unnecessarily uncertain future for any of our frontline NHS staff who continue to risk their own safety to support the NHS response to the pandemic."

The NHS Confederation and NHS Providers call for a long-term solution to make sure that NHS community services commissioned by local authorities are funded to meet Agenda for Change pay increases and pension costs – if not they say jobs may be at risk without one.

Andrew Ridley, chair of the Community Network and chief executive of Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "Now is not the time for distracting re-tendering processes, much less the threat of cuts and job losses, at a time when providers of community health services are facing greater demand for services, as well as significantly more to come at the end of the lockdown period."

Event Diary

Following the 2017 Naylor Report into NHS estates, it has been estimated that estate upkeep costs have reached approximately £10bn in annual funding for 2019/2020.

More recently, ERIC (Estates Returns Information Collection) data collection has contained some deeply alarming news about the condition of NHS buildings and equipment.

Supplier Profiles