FEARS that more disadvantaged parts of Bradford could lose out due to a major shake up of local NHS services have been raised by Councillors.

And a health boss admitted that the changes are down to budget cuts - rather than a grander scheme to improve services.

Health services in the Bradford District is currently overseen by three Clinical Commissioning Groups - Bradford City, Bradford District and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.

From April these three CCGs will be replaced by a single organisation, and this shake up was discussed by members of Bradford Council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.

The changes come after CCGs were ordered to reduce their running costs by 20 per cent by April - and locally that means a cut of £2.5 million.

There is currently a public consultation into the changes.

Helen Hirst, representing the CCGs, told the committee: “There is no getting away from this - the main reason for the change is the cut. I wouldn’t be sitting her in front of you if we hadn’t had this cut.”

She said merging the three organisations would help cut management costs due to three management bodies being replaced by one.

She said the cuts had already been made, so if the shake up did not happen, savings would need to be made elsewhere. As it stands, the changes would not impact front line services.

The groups’ existing offices in Scorex House in Bradford City Centre and Steeton will remain open.

Councillors questioned whether the larger organisation may mean areas of high deprivation, such as Keighley and Bradford, might receive less funding in the way of grants.

Councillor Ralph Berry (Lab, Wibsey) said: “Another NHS reorganisation - it must be that time of year.

“The danger with a bigger organisation is that some things may get lost. There is a risk it might lose focus unless people like us hold them to account. But I see why this is happening, we have the barrel of a financial gun aimed at us.”

Mrs Hirst was asked if the new group could ring fence money allocated to certain areas. She replied: “I can’t guarantee a new CCG will ring fence that money forever. I can’t bind my successors to that.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said: “If the government wants to give out money to a deprived authority, will Bradford being part of a bigger organisation dilute that?”

Mrs Hirst said: “Some extremes will become more average, it is a risk when it comes to national reporting.”

Cllr Sunderland replied: “The risk is we dilute the poverty in certain areas by being part of a bigger group. How do we address this?”

Mrs Hirst replied: “There is very little we can do to address that.”

Cllr Sunderland replied: “I just worry that to save £2 million in admin costs, we might end up losing out on £10 million in funding for the most deprived areas.”

Mrs Hirst also told the meeting that current NHS plans could see the area merged into an even larger CCG - one for West Yorkshire and Harrogate. She said: “If we don’t do something, then it will be done to us.”