Fears for future health funding

John is concerned for health funding, despite announcements this week that were better than expected.

NHS England has announced funding allocations for commissioners – including Clinical Commissioning Groups, which pay for two thirds of NHS services – for 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Next year, funding for Barnsley and Rotherham CCGs will increase by 2%, which means it will remain flat in real terms. Other areas of the country will see an increase.

MPs had feared big cuts – £40.8m (-13.5%) in Barnsley and £20.9m (-6.8%) in Rotherham – and wrote to the Health Secretary raising their concerns and calling on him to reconsider changes to the funding formula.

The government have changed the allocation formula to favour areas with a high elderly population rather than the most disadvantaged, which works against those with higher deprivation and lower life expectancy. The MPs believe this is fundamentally unfair because it benefits areas with the healthiest people.

John Healey, former Shadow Health Secretary and MP for Wentworth & Dearne, said: “The news isn’t as bad as we feared for the next two years but I am worried for the medium and long-term.

“If the government press ahead with this unfair policy which, like so many of their decisions, benefits richer, healthier areas, we will see health inequalities widen further.

“The government are still tightening the funding squeeze in Yorkshire and the north, and transferring money to more affluent southern areas – they’re just doing it more slowly.

“Our campaign to improve the funding picture up to 2016 has paid off but in the new year we will continue to press ministers about their unfair changes which will disadvantage South Yorkshire.”

Earlier this year, Mr Healey revealed Barnsley and Rotherham receive less than half the funding for public health that goes to posh Kensington and Chelsea – despite far higher deprivation and lower life expectancy.

Rotherham receives £53 in public health grant per person and Barnsley £58. Meanwhile in Kensington and Chelsea – where men and women are expected to live eight years longer and women nine or 10 years longer – the grant is £130 per person.