Fears that Yorkshire stands to be disadvantaged by the re-allocation of health budgets were confirmed this week as it emerged the region received the lowest funding increase in the country.
The NHS England Board met to decide how health funding for primary care services and GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) should be allocated across the country. The review took place following intervention by government ministers who pushed for the funding formula to take greater account of concentrations of elderly populations rather than areas of health deprivation.
The new allocations have resulted in Yorkshire receiving one of the worst funding outcomes in the country, with funding being frozen while other areas e.g. Woking, Windsor and Bracknell receive large increases. Despite CCGs in West Yorkshire being awarded a 2.14% increase in their funding for 2014/15 and a 1.7% increase in 2015/16, spending on primary care services will be frozen in real terms in 2014/15 and cut in 2015/16 meaning that there will be no overall gain in funding across the board with the potential of a real term cut as service costs rise.
There also appears to have been some double-counting in the formula, with the Better Care Fund, intended to support the integration of health and local authority social care services, having been counted in both the NHS allocations and the local authority settlement. If the Better Care Fund is not included in the supposed uplift for Leeds CCGs it seems that they may in effect suffer an upfront 2% cut. Further clarity will be given to the CCGs.
In contrast, the Midlands, east of England and the Home Counties will receive greater funding, with the South Midlands, Hertfordshire and the Thames Valley receiving around a 3.5% increase in funding and central London getting a 3.1% increase.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Board Member for Health & Wellbeing, said
“Even though the cuts to regional health funding were not as bad as we feared over the summer, they are still not good news for the region or for Leeds. With services already struggling to meet care demands, this latest news is only going to make things more difficult.
“Prior to the allocations review, myself and the Leader of Leeds City Council had written to members of the NHS England Board to express our serious concerns about proposed reductions in our GP Commissioning Groups’ funding. While we welcome the fact that NHS England paid some heed to our concerns and did not implement the proposed formula which would have resulted in an even greater disadvantage for the region, there has unfortunately not been nearly enough of a shift to protect the most vulnerable people here.
“We now face a situation where our ability to tackle existing health inequalities in Leeds has been seriously undermined while other, more affluent areas of the country will receive funding increases.”