Chief Executive of the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Dr Chris Clayton, was in Chesterfield last Thursday to present latest NHS plans to remedy the £80m hole in the county’s health budget. And what he had to say did not go down well with Derbyshire’s charities and voluntary groups who support the most vulnerable in our communities. They find themselves facing potentially devastating cuts to funding and support which will result from a proposed £38m first round of NHS savings.
Chesterfield’s Derbyshire Voluntary Action is one of the 40 organisations affected by the proposals. It provides vital help and support to over 300 local small charities and volunteer-led groups, many of whom depend on its small grants programme for their survival. Jacqui Willis, Chief Executive was at the Engagement meeting and spoke up for her members. She said, “I left the meeting feeling frustrated and disappointed. The voluntary sector is not responsible for the mess the Derbyshire CCG’s have created and yet we are in the first line of fire when it comes to cost savings. On the evidence of today, the CCG’s plans seem to be half-baked and simply not thought through. The ripple effect from this will be catastrophic.”
Currently, CCG grants of £205,000 per year pay for Derbyshire Voluntary Action’s three main services: providing representation, information services, and grants schemes for small groups, such as social groups and lunch clubs; support and advice for the mental health voluntary sector; and its flagship award-winning social prescribing service, vSPA, which links vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with long term conditions to services and community-based help and support, to enable them to live better in their own homes and be less reliant on NHS services.
Continued Jacqui, “We’ve got a very short time to respond to the proposals. I’ll be working hard over the next couple of weeks to report back on the many impacts these cuts will have, not just for Derbyshire Voluntary Action but for the hundreds of groups we support. We urge anyone who knows the very valuable work we do to support us by telling us how they will be affected should our services disappear.”