Surgery under the knife?

PEOPLE could soon have to pay to get their tonsils taken out if new plans from Scotland’s largest health board are agreed.

Reducing the number of so-called low gain procedures will save Greater Glasgow and Clyde £123,000 a year.

NHSGGC says it needs to cut around £55million – just over three per cent – of its general revenue budget.

This plan, which is “in response to national guidance on the effectiveness of such procedures”, will be considered for approval on June 28.

An NHSGGC spokeswoman said: “This tough efficiency target can only be achieved by re-examining everything we do as we have no alternative but to find more economic ways of delivering healthcare, while at the same time improving quality of service and improved access targets.

“Reducing low health gain procedures such as tonsilitectomies, grommets, varicose veins, dilation and curettage and minor lumps surgery are included in these efficiency proposals”.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said maintaining clinical “quality and effectiveness” must be central to any decisions made.

And she insisted the health board was only considering proposals, not actual decisions.

She said: “The NHS doesn’t stand still.

“There will always be debates, not just about the clinical effectiveness of particular procedures.

“And it goes both ways: many procedures done now would not have been contemplated some years ago.

“There will also be debates about whether certain procedures can be done as day cases rather than as inpatients, as it would have been some years ago.

“But the key consideration will always be clinical quality and clinical effectiveness.

“There are pressures bearing down on the health service but we make it very clear that any efficiency plans have to be judged against that key consideration of quality and we will make sure that that is the case”.

She added: “The health service is one of the only areas of Scottish government spending that will see an increase in its budget this year and in future years”.

If the new plan were to be green lit, GPs and consultants would add only the more serious cases to waiting lists but targets set by Holyrood would still have to be met.

NHSGGC would start cutting back the number of procedures from the start of 2012.