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Child Mortality (Luton)

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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What further measures he intends to take to tackle child mortality in Luton. [103205]

A range of health initiatives are already being undertaken in Luton to contribute towards reducing child mortality. I was pleased to be able to visit the Our House project in my hon. Friend's constituency, where health visitors, other health professionals and parents are working together to safeguard their children's health and futures. In addition, we are increasing funding to Luton teaching primary care trust significantly to help tackle inequalities, of which child mortality is a particularly important one.

As my hon. Friend is aware, Luton suffers from a high level of infant mortality: 6.5 per 1,000 births, as opposed to the UK-wide average of 5.5—a tragic indicator of health deprivation. Is she aware that in terms of funding, Luton primary care trust is one of the furthest from capitation? At the end of a three-year period, it will be one of the eight PCTs furthest away from capitation. Although we are extremely grateful for the additional funding that we have received for many health projects in our area, for our Government have committed themselves to improve health care—

I understand my hon. Friend's concern. I know that she is keen to tackle health inequalities, so I am sure she welcomes the fact that Luton PCT will receive an increase of more than 32 per cent. over the next three years, of which a significant part is a rolling-over of the health inequalities adjustment. Although I recognise her point, the allocations policy will reduce the discrepancy between Luton's financial position and its distance from target. We believe that we have struck the right balance for the present allocation round, but we will consider the policy in the light of all the circumstances when we outline the next set of allocations.