Controversial plans to change the way NHS spends its £100bn budget being considered

 

Senior health service managers are considering controversial plans to change the way the NHS spends its £100bn annual budget across different parts of England.

Click HERE to view graphic

The move would result in vast amounts of NHS money being shifted from some of the poorer parts of England, with young populations, to richer areas with older populations.

Currently the poorest areas of the country receive significantly more money per head of population than richer areas as part of efforts to reduce long-term health inequalities.

But under the new plan, supported by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, NHS managers are considering changing the formula so that the age of the local population rather than deprivation would be the main factor in determining funding.

Critics say the shift is being backed by the Government because the areas which would benefit are primarily Conservative strongholds while those which would lose out vote Labour.

However, senior health economists argue that deprivation is a poor indicator of the health needs of an area and that Britain’s growing elderly population makes it imperative to rethink the health funding formula.

Currently NHS funding is weighted by looking at a range of factors including age, a range of deprivation indicators and the standardised mortality rate – the number of deaths each year by age above or below what might be expected nationally.

Thus Tower Hamlets – one of the most deprived areas of the country – has an NHS spend per head of £2,084, while Dorset,  with a large number of elderly residents, has a spend per head of £1,560.

This reflects the amount of money local health authorities have available to spend on their patients. Last year Dorset spent £4,075 on each of its cancer patients compared to Tower Hamlet which spent £13,087.

Answering questions from health professionals recently, Mr Lansley suggested it was time to change the formula to reflect the higher burden on the NHS of elderly populations with bigger health needs.

“Wherever you are in the country you should broadly have resources equivalent with access to NHS services,” he said.

“They (commissioners) should be looking at what it is that is likely to give rise to a demand for NHS services. What is likely to make the biggest difference? Actually it’s elderly populations who are not in substantial deprivation.”

But his comments have outraged the Labour Party and a number of health economists who argue the new policy will result in a massive redistribution of NHS “wealth” from the poorest parts of England to the richest.

Clare Bambra, Professor of public health policy and acting director of the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham University, said focusing on age and severing the current link with deprivation and health needs would shift funding from “the neediest, poorer areas of the north and the inner cities towards the least needy, most affluent, and most elderly areas of the south”.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, which included a chart showing her projections for which areas of the country would lose out, she added: “It means more money for areas voting Conservative and less for those voting Labour.”

Critics also point out that areas with large elderly populations may be that way because they have better standards of living in the first place.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, said age must not be a dominant factor in determining health spending. “Proceeding with a system of that kind would siphon resources out of the areas where life expectancy is shortest and the health challenges greatest. It would be immoral and indefensible.”

But Sheena Asthana, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Plymouth, described the current system of allocating money to different parts of the NHS as a “mess” which was unfair on those people who needed the service most.

“What we know is that current health funding formula does not give sufficient weight to the age of the population and the demands they put on local NHS services,” she said. “It has been mess for many years and it is not a party political point to say that it needs to be reformed.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are making sure that funding is given to areas that need it most. The Secretary of State has asked an independent body of experts for advice on how best to achieve this. No decisions have been made.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

    SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

    Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

    £85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

    KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

    £85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn