NHS group withdraws proposal to ban non-vital operations

Image caption Feedback showed the proposal to suspend non-urgent referrals to hospital during winter was unpopular, St Helens CCG said

An NHS commissioning group has withdrawn its proposal to temporarily ban non-vital operations in a bid to tackle funding problems.

St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it had received feedback indicating the move "is not supported".

The CCG, which was recently rated "inadequate" by NHS England, is facing a funding gap of £12.5m this year.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was pleased the CCG had listened to its concerns.

Options to suspend IVF services for people aged under 37 for two years and stop providing gluten free foods and some over-the-counter medicines are still under consideration.

'Tough decisions'

Lay chairman of the CCG, Geoffrey Appleton, said since launching the consultation, "we have been listening to and considering all the feedback we have received."

"As a result of this we have taken the decision to withdraw the proposal to pause non-urgent referrals from the consultation."

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA's GP committee, said: "We're pleased to see St Helens CCG has listened to concerns from the BMA and others and made the right decision.

"This does not address the underlying problem, that investment in the NHS is not keeping up with demand."

Mr Appleton said the CCG "will now be looking at other measures we can introduce" to close the funding gap, which "will undoubtedly still involve some tough decisions about what is affordable".

He said "the financial challenges" they face "have not gone away", adding: "I would encourage local people to continue to make their views heard".

The proposals in the CCG's Financial Recovery Plan are under public consultation until 5 October.

Image caption The CCG said it is "under-funded" compared with other areas in Cheshire and Merseyside.

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