A new report out this week has estimated the total annual cost of the monarchy at £333.9m, eight times the official figure.
The report, Royal Expenses: Counting the Cost of the Monarchy, shows that each ‘working royal‘ costs the taxpayer an average of £18.5m, making them the most expensive public officials in the country.
The report also challenges the claim that the monarchy brings in any revenue from tourism or the Crown Estate.
Campaign group Republic, which is publishing the report, has called for a radical overhaul of royal funding.
The report will be published on the morning of Tuesday June 23, ahead of the publication of the official royal accounts.
The report can be previewed at www.republic.org.uk/royalexpensesreport
The estimated total annual cost of the monarchy is £334m, around a third of a billion pounds.
This means each ‘working royal’ costs the taxpayer around £18.5m a year on average.
The total annual cost of the monarchy is more than NHS England spent on the Cancer Drugs Fund last year.
For £334m the government could employ 15,000 new nurses14,000 new police officersor 15,000 new teachers.
Current funding arrangements are unsustainable and must be radically reformed.
A North East MP has accused Government ministers of ignoring the region’s “first class” healthcare when dishing out emergency cash awards.
This week, Westminster approved a £25m injection into social care for older people in areas where hospitals are facing the biggest problems over delayed patient discharges.
But of the 65 local authorities in England to receive the money, which must be spent by the end of March to ease pressure on wards by moving patients into care in the community, none are in the North East.
Ronnie Campbell, Labour member for Blyth Valley, claims the funding is “almost all southern based where local authorities haven’t been on the receiving end of same level of ConDem cuts as Northern authorities” which have still managed to provide “a first class service”.
And he accused the Government of bailing out councils who are failing to organise their discharges from hospitals properly, while not rewarding Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Newcastle councils who are facing up to the challenges.
“I’m very worried that local authorities like Northumberland are having their budgets hacked to bits and yet they’re coping with the transfer from NHS care to local authority care.
“They’re under enormous pressure to deliver other services to the general public yet Eric Pickles and Jeremy Hunt are rewarding councils which happen to have marginal constituencies in them.
“This doesn’t seem to be the ‘fair deal for Northumberland’ local Tories are trumpeting – in fact, this ranks up there with the 20% cut to transport funding and £3m further cuts to the council budget as an example of how the ConDems are targeting the North for purely party political reasons.”
The Department of Health emergency fund was authorised by a special ministerial committee, which has met weekly to help the NHS cope with winter pressures.
According to NHS England, one in five hospital beds was occupied over the Christmas period by someone ready for discharge but unable to move on because of blockages in the system. About a third of these blockages were attributed to lack of social care services.
The average cash boost for each of the 65 councils is £380,000, with money to be spent on extra support for people in their homes and short-term places in residential homes.
Responding to Mr Campbell, Coun Peter Jackson, Tory leader on Northumberland County Council, said:
“The truth is that this Government has fully protected NHS funding from day one.
“Rather than acknowledge this or the indication that our local health care services are performing much better than others across the country, Labour are once again resorting to scaremongering tactics and displaying financial illiteracy.
“Mr Campbell appears to be deliberately misleading the public by confusing local government and health care funding.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department of Health added:
“We planned for winter earlier than ever this year. We constantly review what additional measures we can take to ease the pressure on services.
“In preparation for the Better Care Fund, the NHS and local authorities are already preparing joint plans to work together better, keep people well and avoid hospital admissions. This money helps speed up that work for this winter.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Jan 2015
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
Parts of Teesside risk being “overwhelmed by cuts and closures” to NHS services, a Labour MP told the House of Commons.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop blasted government cuts to local NHS services in a Queens Speech health debate in the House of Commons on Monday.
He said he used the debate as a way of showing how badly NHS cuts were affecting his constituency and said: “Over the space of a few weeks from this April my constituency has been overwhelmed by a perfect storm of cuts and closures pushed through by NHS England and the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).”
He said Skelton faced losing one of its GP practices, a nurse practitioner clinic and the attached pharmacy, which served socially deprived areas with “grave” health needs.
The fact the CCG was also looking at ending minor injuries provision at East Cleveland and Guisborough Hospitals, and threatening the closure of the GP surgery at Park End, in Middlesbrough, were additional “threats“, he said.
“The cumulative impact of these cuts and closures will increase the likelihood of people going to A&E at James Cook University Hospital, even when this is not appropriate” he added.
“When that A&E has struggled to cope with demand over recent years, these cuts are a false economy.“
He had sought meetings with government ministers to explore alternatives but said these were rebuffed.
A spokesman for NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “At the end of April 2014, NHS South Tees CCG launched a public consultation that focuses on proposals to improve community services for vulnerable people, the elderly and those with long-term health conditions.
Minor injury services at Guisborough and East Cleveland treated between two-ten people per day compared to 60 at similar services, according to CCG figures.
“Urgent care, including minor injury services, will be provided from Redcar Primary Care Hospital,” he added.
People are being urged to attend a public drop-in event tomorrow (Wednesday, June 11″) at the Freebrough Enterprise Centre in Brotton from 5.30pm to 7pm.
More events are planned in Guisborough, Middlesbrough and Redcar. More details are on southteesccg.nhs.uk or on 01642-745318.
Source – Northern Echo, 10 June 2014
A private company that runs a Newcastle GP practice will end its contract more than two years early.
Grainger GP Practice at Elswick Health Centre was controversially taken over by Care UK in September 2012 and was committed to run the service until the end of August 2017.
The move sparked fierce opposition from health professionals and campaign groups as they claimed the company did not have a record of delivering high-quality GP care in deprived areas.
Now Care UK has announced it will exit its five-year contract halfway through its tenure and depart at the end of January next year. The company refused to give reasons as to why the contract was ending early.
Doctor Leah McAleer left Grainger GP Practice following the appointment of Care UK, and campaign group Keep Our NHS Public North East has always had concerns about the private company.
Martin Manasse, a member of the campaign group said: “It is shameful that Care UK is exiting their contract early, but I believe it was predictable. We said when the company took over that the money available from their bid was not enough for what they claimed they were going to do with the GP practice.”
Approximately 7,000 patients are registered with Grainger GP Practice and health chiefs have insisted that patients do not need to register elsewhere as they remain confident an alternative provider can be secured without any disruption.
The announcement by Care UK comes just weeks after nearby Scotswood GP practice was told that it is under threat following a recent contract review of its provider.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said: “Patients deserve continuity of care if we are going to overcome health inequalities. Patients need to have trust in GP services and that comes by building up a relationship with those who run services. If care providers come in and exit for unknown reasons then that damages services.”
Patients registered with the doctors’ practice in Elswick have received a letter informing them of the changes.
A Care UK spokesperson said: “Since being chosen to run the Grainger Medical Practice we have worked hard to improve the service for local people.
“However, after reviewing our business strategy and having conversations with the commissioner, it was decided that Care UK will not run the service past January 2015. We are committed to working closely with the commissioner and whoever is chosen to run the service after us to ensure the practice’s 7,000 patients are not affected in any way by a change of provider.”
The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team of NHS England is responsible for commissioning GP services in the local area and will seek the views of patients.
Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for the team, said: “We recognise the need for a GP practice in the area and are confident that an alternative provider can be secured in this time frame, and that there will be no disruption to patients.
“We have written to all patients to let them know about this change. There is no need to re-register with another GP, though patients do have that option if they wish.
“This is a good opportunity for people to let us know if there are things we can do to improve the service, and we will be contacting patients again in the near future to ask for their views.
“Ensuring continuity of access to high quality care and services remains our top priority.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 03 May 2014