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Dartford Borough Council calls on government to provide ‘fair funding settlement’ to support CCG suffering £17m deficit

PUBLISHED: 09:57 18 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:57 18 July 2017

Darent Valley Hospital

Darent Valley Hospital

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A motion put to the local authority claims doctors and nurses in north Kent are being “let down” by a lack of funding

The government is being urged to provide a fair funding settlement for health services in north Kent amid fears doctors and nurses are being “let down” by a lack of support.

Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced a £17m deficit earlier this year, and admitted the financial woes are expected to continue - forecasting a £42m hole by 2020/21.

Bosses at the CCG, which is responsible for organising public health services in the towns, have said there has been a significant increase in the demand for services, with the local population growing by around two per cent per annum.

Meanwhile, funding is only growing by one per cent per year, as the CCG found some £13m in efficiency savings to try and balance the books.

It comes after Susan Acott, the chief executive of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, which runs Darent Valley Hospital, admitted the current uncertainty around Brexit was having an adverse effect on recruitment of both EU and non-EU staff.

She added that around 300 EU nationals currently employed at the hospital were “now worried about what was planned for the future”.

Now Dartford Borough Council has unanimously backed a motion, demanding a fair settlement, and calling on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure local health services can meet the demands of a growing population.

In the motion, which was amended, but passed, at a council meeting on Monday, opposition leader Jonathon Hawkes says “dedicated healthcare professionals working at Darent Valley Hospital are being let down by the current inadequate funding settlement and this could have an impact on the care they are able to deliver”.

Conservative colleagues, however, took exception to claims the public sector pay freeze introduced in 2010 is contributing to local recruitment troubles, so Cllr Hawkes told us he removed that paragraph from the proposal.

The council agreed to “endorse and fully support the letter sent by the Policy Overview Committee to the chief executive of NHS England highlighting the growing gap in funding to the CCG” and “support demands for a fair funding settlement for the CCG and calls on the secretary of state for health to ensure that local health services in Dartford are adequately funded and resourced to provide care to Dartford’s growing population.”

Cllr Hawkes told us after the meeting: “My primary objective was to get an agreed position for the council in terms of a funding settlement.

“It’s not just numbers on a spreadsheet, this is having a real impact on patient care.

“It would be an issue for any town that’s not keeping pace with population growth, but we have the Ebbsfleet Garden City and a lot of new homes being built so it’s a really acute issue.

“People are not against houses being built, but what they are concerned about is whether we have the necessary infrastructure to cope.

“The job of the local authority is to lobby and put pressure on those who hold the purse strings.

“We are advocates for local people and that’s exactly what we’re doing by announcing this position - council chambers are places for debate on national issues.

“The power is with the government, and not with us, but it’s absolutely right we make a stand and confront them on this.”

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