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Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale PCT

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

10. What estimate she has made of the effect of the present funding formula on services provided by Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale primary care trust. (95969)

In 2003, following a review by the independent advisory committee, we introduced a fairer funding formula to ensure that primary care trusts can commission similar levels of health services for populations in similar need. As a result, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale PCT has benefited from an increase in funding of £60 million or about 20 per cent. over 2006-07 and 2007-08.

I welcome that answer, precisely because that extra money will be used to help to improve mortality rates in my Burnley constituency, which, regrettably, are worse than the national average across the board. Can my right hon. Friend guarantee that the allocation of funding will always be based on health need?

I can certainly give my hon. Friend an assurance that we will continue to use a fair funding formula that takes into account the fact that different populations in different parts of the country have different health needs, whether that results from a higher proportion of elderly people or from a concentration of communities with a much higher risk of cancer, heart disease, circulatory and other diseases as, indeed, is the case in her constituency, where the average life expectancy is about two and a half years less than the English average, and about five years less than, to take a random example, the average for South Cambridgeshire.

What estimate has the Minister made of the increased costs of the reconfiguration that resulted in the downgrading of Burnley general hospital and Rochdale infirmary, and what is the impact on funding formulae? One of my constituents suffered an accident in Whitworth on Saturday night and was collected by an ambulance that came from Preston. How many extra ambulances are needed to serve those communities?

These matters must be taken into account by the primary care trust and by the hospitals. As the hon. Gentleman indicates, there has been a review of emergency and acute services in east Lancashire, which I believe is under debate by the overview and scrutiny committee. He will understand that I believe that such decisions, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Kitty Ussher) has been to see me with some of her constituents, should ideally be made locally. But the overview and scrutiny committee has an important role to play in that, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

May I tell my right hon. Friend that a recent consultation in my constituency in Rossendale showed a clear demand for the retention of community health provision in the Rossendale valley, and that before the end of the year the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, the PCT and Rossendale borough council will be submitting a bid for funding to establish a health campus in the Rossendale valley? I hope that, when that arrives on her desk, she will give it serious consideration.

My hon. Friend refers to an extremely exciting proposal for a health campus. As she knows, the funding that has been made available by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is now almost entirely devolved to primary care trusts, following the much fairer funding formula. It will therefore be for the local primary care trust and the strategic health authority in the north-west to decide whether, as she hopes, that project should be a priority for further funding.