Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Cumbria to lose £58m from health budget, warns nursing union

Cumbria stands to lose about £58 million from its annual health budget if a new NHS funding formula comes into force, a nursing union has warned.

Royal College of Nursing Glenn Turp photo
Glenn Turp

The Government is reviewing the way it allocates funding to Clinical Commissioning Groups – local bodies which decide how area budgets is spent.

But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) fears the proposed new method will hit Cumbria and the north east hard because it gives no weighting for deprived communities. Instead funding will be based solely on the predicted demand for healthcare of the overall population.

The union has used the proposed new formula to predict how it would affect local areas in 2013/14. It claims that Cumbria CCG stands to lose £118 per person. Based on total population, that will mean about £58m being lost from the county’s already stretched health budget.

The RCN Northern region’s figures also show that Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead and parts of Newcastle also stand to lose significant amounts.

Meanwhile other parts of the country – particularly southern coastal areas like Hampshire, Eastbourne and Gosport – could gain as much as £164 per person. Other areas like Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead would also benefit.

Glenn Turp, regional director for the RCN Northern region, fears such a move would hit people living in deprived communities.

“The north east and Cumbria suffers from some of the worst health inequalities in the country. NHS England should be aiming to reduce inequalities in health outcomes, not make them worse,” he said.

“Given the size of health inequalities in this region, I believe it should actually be increasing funds to the areas with the worst outcomes.

“However, NHS England’s own data shows these proposals will do the opposite. They are getting rid of the funding weighting for levels of deprivation altogether, which is clearly just wrong.

“Some of the biggest losers in terms of NHS funding cover the same areas of the country where we have the highest incidences of chronic and long-term illness. Community and public health nurses are in the front line, caring for these people day in, day out. Let me be clear – the scale of these cuts will be to the detriment of patient care.”

He hopes the figures will draw more attention to the issue before a final decision is made.

A spokesman for the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said there would be no comment ahead of the group’s meeting tomorrow when the issue will be discussed.


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