Observations BODY POLITIC

Time to face up to “scandal” of funding formula

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39129.718067.59 (Published 22 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:395
  1. Nigel Hawkes (nigel.hawkes@thetimes.co.uk)

    The government is in denial about the effects of funding inequities on primary care trust deficits

    Sometimes it is the unasked political questions that are the most interesting. If a political party stood up before an election and said: “We intend to give some areas of the country twice as much money to run their health services as others,” questions might well be raised.

    The obvious one would be: “How on earth do you justify that?” It would be quickly followed by demanding whether this lopsided generosity produced the desired results. Voters in unfavoured areas where services were being cut, referrals to consultants stymied, or waiting times artificially lengthened would be enraged.

    Yet that is what actually happens, largely behind the electorate's back. In 2004-5, for example, Islington Primary Care Trust received £1566 (€2326; $3054) per head to run its health services, while Wokingham PCT in Berkshire got £752 per head.

    It is likely that inner city Islington has greater health needs than leafy Wokingham, but it is difficult to believe that it is more than twice as needy. Both areas need general practitioners, access to hospital services, community care, and all the other …

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