HEALTH chiefs in mid and south Cheshire are working together to find cuts of £30 million.

The Vale Royal and South Cheshire NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are among 14 across the country to have been placed under a capped expenditure process.

It means that GPs, hospitals, pharmacists and other service providers in the area are having to work together in order to balance the books.

Dr Jonathan Griffiths, GP at Swanlow Practice in Winsford and chairman of NHS Vale Royal CCG, is eager for patients to understand the challenges that lie ahead.

“We are desperate to discuss this process in public because we want to be open and transparent, so patients are aware of what we are proposing,” he told the Guardian.

“The capped expenditure process doesn’t mean that we have any less money than we normally would – if anything we have more than what we had last year.

“But when we drew up our plans and looked at how much we had to spend, we were £30 million short of what we needed.”

Following a meeting on Thursday, September 7, NHS bosses in mid Cheshire have already begun to produce ideas on how to save money while ensuring that patients still receive quality care.

Key policies include more costeffective drug prescriptions, a reduction in GP referrals by sending pictures online to consultants for diagnosis rather than sending patients to hospital, and a ‘physio first’ system for patients with bone, muscle and joint pain.

At the same time, Dr Griffiths insists that the most at-risk patients – such as those waiting to receive cancer treatment – will not be made to wait longer for treatment, and will still receive priority care.

He said: “The process is a useful one in that it asks service providers to come together and see collectively how to we can provide the best service possible.

“In the past there has been a tendency to see it as the commissioners against the hospitals and providers, but this will see us all come together to work out how to manage this.

“If we can get through this and make effective changes it will be a positive thing. This is the way we have to work in future.

“That’s not to say this is not going to be challenging – finding £30 million is a challenge.”

For details on the policies being proposed through the capped expenditure process, visit in Northwich and Winsford, or in Middlewich, Crewe and Nantwich.