New NHS guideline 'will reduce the inequalities gap' says St Helens CCG boss

St Helens CCG has been carrying out on-going review of its own commissioning policy
St Helens CCG has been carrying out on-going review of its own commissioning policy
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New NHS guidelines aimed at reducing “inappropriate interventions” will help reduce inequality, it has been claimed.


Last year NHS England (NHSE) consulted on 17 clinical interventions that were provided by the NHS more than 335,000 times during 2017-18.

Some of the procedures including intervention for snoring, haemorroid surgery and grommets for glue ear in children.

The consultation found that across England there was substantial variation in the rate these interventions were performed that could not be explained by differences in population demand.

NHSE wants to reduce the number of inappropriate interventions and has come up with new guidelines, which it is asking CCGs to adopt.

Subsequently, CCGs and hospitals are expected to reduce the number of these interventions carried out during 2019-20.

Dr Ruth Hunter, St Helens CCG’s senior commissioning and transformation manager for NHS, gave a presentation on the changes to St Helens Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny panel on Monday.

Dr Hunter said it is hoped that removing inappropriate interventions will create less of a “postcode lottery” system that currently occurs across the country.

“I feel very passionate about the fact that we should all work to the same criteria,” Dr Hunter said.

“What you find in healthcare is that the more articulate and the well-connected you are, the more likely you are to access healthcare.

“If we have very clear criteria for healthcare it means that those people with less access, people that are more disenfranchised, will have more chance of accessing healthcare on an equal footing to those people who perhaps have more advantages.

“For me that will reduce the inequalities gap, so to have set criteria that is monitored is really important.”

In addition to the work carried out by NHSE, St Helens CCG has been carrying out on-going review of its own commissioning policy.

Dr Hunter said the work is being undertaken to ensure that certain interventions are targeted at the right people.

She added that nationally, it is recognised that there are a lot of medical interventions carried out that are not evidence-based.

Dr Hunter said surgery can be very costly and does not always work, adding that many of the issues would have solved itself without any intervention.

However, Blackbrook councillor Alan Cunliffe said the changes could appear to the public as though certain procedures are being “rationed”.

Parr councillor, Bisi Osundeko, also disagreed with the procedure for grommets for glue ear in children being included in the 17 interventions.

Dr Hunter said people will still be able to have the procedures on the NHS, but there will be defined criteria for whether or not it should be carried out.

She said the intention is to look at other, safer treatments to help solve the issue.