The HSJ (3rd September 2015) has found that restrictions on some healthcare services are being considered by a third of CCGs amid tightening financial pressures. Of 188 CCGs that responded to freedom of information requests, 34 reported they had introduced or approved restrictions and 33 said they were considering changes or that their plans were under review. According to the HSJ, “…neighbouring CCGs have tended to make joint or similar decisions, particularly on procedures deemed to be of limited clinical value”. For example, “in the South West, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, CCGs agreed in June to new policies to restrict access to acupuncture, adenoidectomy and post-operative physiotherapy, which will be implemented once local trusts agree to the contract changes”.
In June, the HSJ reported that North East Essex CCG would bring in thresholds for non-urgent elective surgery on the basis of whether patients smoke or are overweight. Smokers will be referred to a smoking cessations service, while overweight or obese patients would be “strongly encouraged” to lose weight. “Failure to attend smoking cessation or weight loss programmes may have an impact on whether individuals could undergo their procedure,” the CCG said in a report for a board meeting.