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Alex MP criticises Government over proposal to reduce NHS funding for poorer areas

People across the Stockton Borough and across Teesside could see their health service being damaged all the more as the Government turns its back on the areas of greatest need.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has expressed his anger at the Government’s proposals to use age— rather than deprivation— as a core measure for NHS funding allocations, which could put serious pressure on the Stockton’s NHS provision.  

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says his new Clinical Commissioning Groups should be looking at population numbers, like the number of older people in an area, appearing to give the green light for them to give less weight to the major factors of health inequality in our society.

This would be devastating for the Stockton Borough where health inequalities are quite stunning, with life expectancy 14.8 years lower for men and 10.4 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Stockton-on-Tees than in the least deprived areas.  And that doesn’t even take into account the differences across Regions.

The latest figures come from the Royal College of Nurses who have said the Health Secretary needs to tread very carefully before he tells NHS Commissioners to use the blunt instrument of age as a measure to help determine funding. The UK has some of the worst health inequalities out of all rich world countries, and anything that exacerbates this will be completely unacceptable to any right thinking person”.  

 Alex said:

“This is yet another example of the Tory Health Secretary being totally out of touch with the real situation on the ground, and like his disastrous top down re-organisation of the NHS, he is simply ignoring the expertise of doctors and nurses and putting the health of the nation at risk.

“It is well known that in areas of social disadvantage, local populations experience higher incidents of heart disease, cancer, emphysema, diabetes, as well as a range of other diseases caused in part by our industrial history and the work that our communities undertook.

“This is not just a health issue- every year, health inequalities cost £31 billion to £33 billion in lost productivity, up to £32 billion in lost taxes and higher welfare payments and £5.5 billion in additional health care costs, something we simply can’t afford in this recession.

 “The North East is already being hit by high unemployment, disproportionate cuts in the public sector and a lack of investment and to take away much needed funding to tackle health inequalities is the last thing the region needs”.