MANAGERS at a York charity which faces losing thousands of pounds in funding from a cash-strapped NHS trust have branded the cuts “ridiculous”.

NHS North Yorkshire and York has suspended a string of contracts for organisations in the voluntary sector after revealing its 2010/11 budget is currently overspent by £17.9 million and the cash gap will rise unless it acts immediately.

This means York Council for Voluntary Service (CVS), which provides back-up to about 1,000 community groups around the city and volunteering opportunities for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties, being left with a £17,500 shortfall in four weeks’ time. It says this will hit its volunteer centre’s ability to help people get involved in local initiatives, and threaten its forums offering support, access and information to charities working with vulnerable residents.

Angela Harrison, York CVS chief executive, said: “This is a ridiculous cut. Reducing our funding by 37 per cent in four weeks’ time not only breaks our legal contracts but, more importantly, doesn’t take into account any impact for the people of York.

“NHS managers should come out to communities and see the huge value of their voluntary sector investment. These services are not just lines on a budget, they are frontline services to vulnerable people.

“In York, we have been making our own efficiency savings across the voluntary sector, but many services, including our own, currently run at a loss. Ironically, they are talking to us about what services they want us to be delivering in 2011, but some groups will not exist by then. “We want NHS North Yorkshire and York to review their decision. The voluntary sector can help them deliver services more efficiently, but we can’t do it in four weeks and not with a 37 per cent cut.”

The health trust is also halting IVF procedures for the last quarter of the financial year, working with doctors to cut prescribing costs by £1.1 million, stopping some primary care procedures and services and reducing agency staff and management costs.

Its chief executive, Jayne Brown said the decisions would be “unpalatable” but added: “We have a duty to secure NHS healthcare for 800,000 residents and we take that responsibility seriously. This means making hard decisions to protect services for the majority. We have a statutory obligation to achieve financial balance and our priority is to achieve significant short-term savings while maintaining essential services for patients.”

£15k slashed from budget

A CHARITY which supports voluntary organisations across the Selby district is to have eight per cent of its budget cut by NHS North Yorkshire and York.

As part of cutbacks the NHS organisation is slashing £15,000 from the annual budget of Selby and District Association of Voluntary Services (AVS). Selby AVS helps some of the most vulnerable in society including the elderly, victims of domestic abuse and alcoholics.

The move comes because of an £18 million overspend within the local NHS.

Selby and District AVS chief officer Linda Slough said the organisation had been given only one month’s notice about the decision.