THE body in charge of money pooled between Wirral Council and the borough’s NHS has said it won’t increase its scope of funds in a bid to reduce the risks caused by our overstretched health service.

The Wirral Health and Care Commissioning (WHaCC), described last year as the “clearest sign yet” that Merseyside’s NHS risks privatisation, announced on Tuesday it will not broaden the scope of its operations to include all social care spending.

The body is a partnership between the council and Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and the decision came at a meeting of its joint strategic commissioning board.

WHaCC is currently in charge of a £136.2m budget that includes some adult and children social care, and public health spending.

It had the option of increasing that funding pool for the next financial year, but it was decided at Birkenhead Town Hall on Tuesday the “narrower scope” would help mitigate against “broader health and care system risk”.

The report said: “It was considered that at this stage broadening the scope of the pool to include all NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Wirral council social care spending could potentially increase risk due to ongoing pressure in the health system.”

Speaking at the meeting, Sue Wells, chief officer of Wirral CCG, said: “As we’ve said before, I do think there’s wisdom in maintaining the level we have in the previous year.

“[That will mean] carrying on at that level whilst [the scrutiny committee is] able to look at our work and see the benefits to people that we are trying to work on, and having that work assessed before considering whether anything further is appropriate or not.”

Last year, the decision to create the WHaCC was described as the “clearest sign yet” the local NHS risks privatisation, due to the single budget making it “more likely” for private companies to enter the market.

The decision by the WHaCC has come as the ongoing crisis in the health service continues, with it recently reported that four in 10 NHS organisations are failing to balance the books.

The National Audit Office last month said it was shocked by “unacceptable” failings that showed in terms of value for money, 38% of local NHS bodies’ financial statements for 2017/18 caused auditors concern.