The future of community health services in Liverpool remains in limbo following a decision to postpone a decision on the subject.
A leaked email emanating from healthcare bosses in the city indicated that plans could put approximately 300 jobs in the Liverpool health system at risk.
NHS bosses were due to award a controversial new contract for community services – including walk-in centres, district nursing and health visitors – at the end of this month.
But health chiefs have instead pulled the plug on the decision-making process for at least a month, with concerns that cost-cutting could have a negative impact on frontline services central to this delay.
There are plans to reduce spending on Liverpool community services by £5 million.
But the leaked email indicates that there will be at least 120 kob losses should this occur, and possibly as many as 300.
Liverpool Community Health (LCH) NHS Trust, which currently provides the city’s community healthcare, is being wound up next year and its services will be absorbed by another organisation.
Announcing the delay in a memo to staff, LCH chief executive Sue Page outlined the current situation.
“These are tough times for the NHS everywhere but we will not take risks with the frontline care that our communities count on. The work to decide between Mersey Care and Bridgewater is no longer going to be completed by the end of October. Instead, we have been told that the timescale has been extended. The extra time is being used to make sure the right choice is made to keep services and staff safe and enable care for more patients closer to home.”
Whichever organisation wins the contract will take over community services from LCH in April 2017.
Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group previously indicated that it intended to spend £5 million on an annual basis on community health from 2017.
But a leaked LCH document warned that this could have a negative impact on healthcare in Liverpool.
“The majority of this would need to be delivered through reductions in frontline services. This could equate to up to 280 whole-time equivalents and could be no fewer than 120 whole-time equivalents.”
According to official NHS figures, there are currently in excess of 25,000 people employed in the public healthcare sector in Liverpool.
Over 2,000 of these are qualified doctors, with this number having stayed pretty constant over the last five years, despite increasing pressure on general practice.