Health chiefs fear North East NHS will miss out

THE North East NHS could lose out on more than £74m through Government plans to shift funding from the region to more affluent areas around the country, a report has claimed.

Dr George Rae, chairman of the North East BMA

THE North East NHS could lose out on more than £74m through Government plans to shift funding from the region to more affluent areas around the country, a report has claimed.

Changes to funding formulas to primary care trusts means poor health rates will be given less consideration when cash is allocated to different parts of the country, the Labour party said.

The report says that areas such as the North East would lose out to parts of the wealthy South.

The figures show that the Conservative-led coalition Government has targeted £74,889,000 of cuts to the region’s health trusts over the coming years.

According to the analysis, the biggest losers in the region would be County Durham Primary Care Trust with a £26.1m reduction in funding. This is closely followed by Sunderland Teaching PCT, which loses £14.9m, Newcastle PCT at £12.3m and Gateshead with £8.2m.

Meanwhile, parts of the South of England would gain over time with Oxfordshire, which includes David Cameron’s affluent Witney constituency, getting £22m more and Cambridgeshire PCT, which includes Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s constituency, receiving an extra £17.3m from Government.

Labour based the claims on an assessment of funding reforms by public health bodies in Manchester and they were obtained by the party’s MP Debbie Abrahams.

But Mr Lansley has dismissed the claims as “nonsense”, insisting the Government was increasing funding across every part of England.

Leading doctors and MPs in the region said patients would suffer because of the targeted reduction in funding.

Dr George Rae (pictured), chairman of the North East British Medical Association (BMA), said: “The North East BMA has been concerned about this issue over the last 12 months.

“We really do think that tackling health inequalities is a very important issue and there is no doubt that pockets of deprivation in the North, as opposed to leafy suburbs in the South, do cause a health gap.

“To meet the unmet health needs in the North East it is crucially important that we get funding for services which are necessary.

“There is concern that in this financial year there is going to be a significant cut in funding for deprivation which will mean that patients in the North East will miss out.”

It is expected that the funding cuts could hit services that help people stop smoking, promote healthy eating and exercise, and raise awareness about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases.

Grahame Morris, Labour’s MP for Easington and a member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, said: “This is yet more evidence that the Tory-led Government’s NHS plans are bad for people in the North East.

“We already suffer from some of the highest levels of health inequalities when compared to the south of England.

“The cuts will make it harder to prevent the big killers like heart disease and cancer, and increase the costs of poor health for everyone in the long run.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “These figures are being used in a misleading way. No one is losing any money.

“We know the need to access healthcare increases for elderly and deprived populations.

“This is about achieving the right balance that funds this access whilst ensuring the vital work to reduce health inequalities continues.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer