Emergency cash for the troubled NHS has been diverted away from the region to areas mainly in the South, a new analysis shows.
Health chiefs in the North-East and North Yorkshire have been handed tiny increases in their budgets from the £2bn fund – most receiving just 0.24 per cent more.
In stark contrast, other areas – mainly in London and the South-East – have been given funding boosts of more than 3.5 per cent, for the 2015-16 financial year.
NHS England argues the extra cash is going to areas which are currently underfunded and which have “the greatest health needs, where the population is growing rapidly”.
But the decision has been fiercely criticised by Nick Brown, Labour MP for Newcastle East, who campaigned against a previous attempt to shift health cash from North to South.
Mr Brown said:
“This is highly political. Extra money is being found for Tory-voting parts of the country at the expense of the rest of us. The allocation formulas have been twisted to bring this outcome about.
“Those who die too young are the losers. The big winners are the geographic areas where people enjoy a long-lived, healthy and comfortable retirement.”
Tom Blenkinsop, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, said:
“This is yet another clear sign that this Government is consciously and deliberately redistributing funds from our area to Tory political priorities in the south of the country.”
The issue of CCG funding has also drawn criticism from local Conservative MPs, including Vale of York’s Julian Sturdy who told ministers of a “postcode lottery” in a debate last week, saying: “Why does Vale of York CCG, in particular, receive such a poor allocation?
There are 53 CCGs receiving rises of between three and four per cent – covering areas where no fewer than 85 per cent of MPs are from the two Coalition parties.
Furthermore, some – unnamed – CCGs have been forced to revise their plans from April because they are now receiving less money than expected, the HSJ said.
The allocations – slipped out by NHS England late on the Friday before Christmas – divide up the £1.1bn of the £2bn which has been given to CCGs, which ‘buy’ treatments.
Announcing the £2bn injection in November, amid growing talk of an NHS “crisis”, George Osborne said it would “support the day-to-day work of our incredible nurses and doctors”.
But 11 of the 14 CCGs in this region will receive just 0.24 per cent extra, worth just £400,000 to Darlington, for example – and none will get more than 1.99 per cent.
Ten CCGs are gaining 3.7 per cent or more, including in Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead, Bedfordshire, Bromley, in Kent, and in Slough.
The list is topped by East Staffordshire, which gets a 4.28 per cent increase – an extra £5.8m, for 2015-16.
The row has echoes of the controversy in both 2012 and 2013, when NHS England first attempted a big shift in spending from poorer areas to those with more pensioners.
It was forced to back down after protests that the “fair shares formula” would slash up to £170m of funding from CCGs in the North-East and North Yorkshire
This time, every area is receiving a rise of at least 1.7 per cent from April, but half the extra £1.1bn will go to just 54 of the 211 CCGs.
Announcing its decision, NHS England said:
“Every CCG will get real terms budget increase.
“More of the extra funding for local health services is being used to more rapidly increase NHS budgets for those parts of the country with the greatest health needs, where the population is growing rapidly, and where services are under greatest pressure.”
NHS England is independent of the Department of Health, which means its spending decisions are no longer announced to parliament, nor scrutinised by MPs.
Source – Northern Echo, 13 Jan 2015
A blind man in South Tyneside says he was asked if he could “get a bus” under a controversial new vetting system for ambulances.
Former lorry driver Alan Tully, 65, lost the sight in his left eye 25 years ago to glaucoma and has very minimal sight in his right.
He regularly books ambulances for treatment at Sunderland Eye Infirmary and a diabetic clinic at South Tyneside District Hospital.
But when he called last Friday to book an ambulance for an appointment at Sunderland Royal Hospital next month, he was told he was “not entitled” to one – and advised to take a taxi or bus instead.
The move comes after a new eligibility system introduced by the North East’s clinical commissioning groups.
Mr Tully, of Winskell Road, Simonside, South Shields, said:
“I rang my GP at Cleadon Park and they told me the system had changed and they gave me a number to ring.
“When I called, they asked me if I couldn’t not use a taxi instead. I thought he meant a taxi ambulance, which I have used in the past, but he meant for me to pay for a taxi.
“I rang back later and this time the woman asked if I could not get a bus to Sunderland.
“I just told her I was blind and my legs aren’t too good.”
Mr Tully, who gets about with the support of his guide dog Zeke, called the service last Friday and is still waiting to hear from health bosses if he meets the criteria needed for an ambulance.
He added: “I think it’s absolutely disgraceful, I really do.
“How are pensioners supposed to be able to pay for taxis?”
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck expressed her concerns over the rule change and is to seek a meeting with the region’s Commissioning Group.
A spokesman on behalf of the Clinical Commissioning Groups in the North East said he could not comment on an individual case.
He confirmed that regulations did not exempt a person with any particular condition or illness from having their transport eligibility reviewed.
“From October 20, all new Patient Transport Service bookings are subject to a short eligibility assessment, in accordance with national policy.
“This will take the form of a small number of questions being asked at the time of booking.
“The purpose of eligibility criteria is to ensure that those patients, with a medical requirement, can access transport to hospital. Patients with a medical requirement to be transported by ambulance will continue to receive transport.
> You might have thought that any patient trying to get to hospital for pre-arranged treatment could be considered to have a medical requirement ?
“Patients who are not eligible, are given information on alternatives available to them. Patients will not have to pay for an ambulance where there is a medical need for transport.”
If patients have any concerns or queries, they can contact the North of Tyne Patient Advice and Liaison Service via Freephone 0800 0320202, by text to 01670 511098 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source – Shields Gazette, 25 Oct 2014