Hospital winter funding blow is not a ‘bad thing’, say health bosses


HEALTH chiefs say hospital trusts in the North East missing out on government funding to cope with the extra winter pressure isn’t such a bad thing – because it means they are performing well.

The Department for Health last week announced £250m of extra money for the NHS to help hospitals plan for the winter but no hospital trusts in the North-East have been awarded any cash, which has lead to criticism.

The issue was raised again during a meeting of Hartlepool’s health and wellbeing board which met at the Civic Centre yesterday to discuss health plans ahead of this winter.

Speaking last week, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said the decision “beggars belief” and demanded answers from the Government.

But health bosses from Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told the committee yesterday that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing that the region had missed out on the funding from central Government because it meant the area’s hospitals were performing well.

The funding is going to those organisations who are failing to meet the target of seeing 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours.

Speaking at the meeting, Ali Wilson, chief officer of Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “You will have heard that some organisations have struggled to meet the A&E target of 95 per cent but locally and in the North East we have managed to achieve that target.

“The resource that has been announced won’t be coming to us because our performance has been good to date.

“That is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Ms Wilson added that the funding came with “strings attached and detailed monitoring” and added that locally, health organisations have been carefully planning for the winter to ensure systems and services remain safe while they are monitoring the urgent care arrangements.

The region’s Urgent Care Board meets regularly and project groups in the north and south Tees areas meet to ensure patients experience during the winter months is a “seamless one”, say health bosses.

Louise Wallace, director of Public Health in Hartlepool, said it was vital that people stayed safe and warm during the winter and made sure that those most at risk have their flu vaccinations.

The annual flu vaccination campaign begins in October, but local GP practices have been writing to all eligible patients and carers in the run up to the campaign to invite them for their jab.

People are advised to get the jab this winter if they are a pregnant woman, aged over 65, have a long term health condition such as diabetes, asthma, a heart condition, have a weakened immune system or care for people in these ‘at risk’ groups.

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