Members of the public are to be given the opportunity to have a say on the future of NHS services in Cambridgeshire - but difficult decisions are ahead, warns a health care provider.
Funding for healthcare across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is under pressure and more people are using NHS services locally and resources are limited, according to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The CCG says: "Currently, the NHS is buying more than it can afford which means that some difficult decisions need to be made about the services it can afford to provide in the future."
The funding body, which buys in health services, has launched a project called The Big Conversation, to enable it to understand what is important to the local community.
The CCG has an annual budget of £1.3 billion to deliver health care services to 980,000 people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This includes funding for hospitals, GP services, pharmacies and mental health services.
Dr Gary Howsam, a GP who is also chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, said "Whilst £1.3 billion may sound like a lot of money, it sadly isn't enough to deliver all of the healthcare services that we would like. If our current budget was shared equally across our whole population it would amount to £1,125 to spend per person each year and we are currently operating at a deficit of £75 million, which means significant savings must be made. Which is why we need to make sure that money is spent in the best way possible.
"To help us to make decisions about the services and treatments we purchase in the future, we are asking our local community to share their views on what matters most to them and about some key areas with us. The responses to these questions will be used to create a set of principles that will inform our future plans, so it is really important everyone gets involved and has their say."
To help people get involved in The Big Conversation the CCG will be holding a series of events in key locations across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. However, if people are unable to make it to an event, they can still have their say by completing the survey online.
More information about The Big Conversation is available online at bit.ly/NHSBigConversation.