Health officials are warning of severe financial pressures in local NHS budgets.
The NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is facing a deficit of £14.3m in their 2015/16 budget.
The group, the statutory health body responsible for planning and commissioning NHS healthcare and health outcomes for people living in North Tyneside, outlined the issue at a meeting on Tuesday, August 25.
In the 2014/15 financial year, the group – which is made up of 29 local GP practices – reported a deficit of £6.4m.
But that figure has increased this financial year due to further pressures and repayment of the previous deficit.
Dr John Matthews, a local GP and Chair of NHS North Tyneside CCG, said: “Since we warned of the situation earlier in the year, we have put in place a detailed financial review and a series of measures to save up to £17m in 2015/16.
There are tough choices ahead, but we are committed to providing high quality healthcare in a sustainable wayDr John Matthews, a local GP and Chair of NHS North Tyneside CCG
“In the meantime, the pressures have continued to grow, due to a combination of issues including an increased number of patients attending our local hospitals and receiving care which is higher than other areas nationally, and a growing elderly population who need additional community-based care for complex health needs.
“This means that we are spending more money than we have allocated for the needs of our local population and not getting the best value for taxpayers’ money.
“The CCG has been proactive in working with our GP members to develop a financial recovery plan, and NHS England is working with us to monitor our plans more closely so that together we can ensure we achieve financial balance.
“An important part of the solution is to make more use of existing community and primary care services and to develop these as an alternative to attending hospital – these changes will bring substantial cost savings, but they are a longer term solution and will take time to implement.
“We also have initiatives that will improve patient care by ensuring that patients receive their care by accessing the most appropriate services as opposed to more expensive inappropriate services.
“We also have other schemes which will reduce inefficiency and waste with no or minimal impact on patient care.
“Nevertheless we have a duty to deliver health care services within our budget allocation and so if our schemes do not deliver sufficient savings, we will then need to look at other areas of expenditure which may impact on the services currently available.
“There are tough choices ahead, but we are committed to providing high quality healthcare in a sustainable way.
“The people of North Tyneside can help this situation by thinking carefully about using the right health service for their needs.
“That means treating common illnesses at home with advice from a local pharmacist, seeing your GP for most health needs and only using A&E for life threatening and emergency situations.
“We have brought in an experienced director to develop and support us to deliver our recovery plan.
“We are fortunate to have excellent health and care services in North Tyneside, and levels of satisfaction are among the highest in the country.
“Our challenge now is to maintain that quality while making sure it is sustainable for the long term.
“This is particularly relevant for the four per cent of our population on whom we spend 50 per cent of the local health budget.
“We are working on a project called New Models of Care which is designed to meet the needs of this group, most of whom are frail and elderly.”