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Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

7. What the weighted capitation allocation for Northamptonshire Heartlands primary care trust was for 2003-04 to 2005-06; and how much was available to be drawn down by the PCT over the same period in relation to the capitation allocation. (103773)

Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT received revenue allocations of £222 million in 2003-04, £244 million in 2004-05 and £267 million in 2005-06. Over the three years covered by this allocation, Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT received an increase of £63.6 million. By the end of 2005-06, the PCT was 4.4 per cent. below its target allocation.

In August 2005, Sir Richard Tilt, the then chairman of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland strategic health authority, said:

“We are however the worst funded SHA relative to the national capitation formula…Indeed North Northamptonshire is our most pressurised health community. Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT which covers this population…is £32 million (9.9 per cent.) below capitation.”

Does the Minister agree with Sir Richard, and is it not true that we do not have a national health service any more, but a postcode lottery health service? The people of Northamptonshire have drawn very bad numbers.

I do not agree with that statement. The hon. Gentleman should cast his mind back to the NHS of the early 1990s before making such comments. Let us get the matter straight. The funding increase that his party voted against—[Interruption.] Instead of rolling his eyes, the hon. Gentleman should listen to the facts. His PCT received an increase over the two years of this funding allocation of 29.4 per cent. The national average increase for PCTs was 19.5 per cent. and—

The hon. Gentleman cannot keep saying that. The resources that this Government have put into his local PCT are on a scale never seen before, and they have been adjusted to account for the population increase in his area. Overall, they constitute an extremely generous package for the health service in his area. If he wants more resources for the health service, he should try voting for them next time.

Does the Minister agree that the principle of fair funding, which the Government say that they espouse, should mean that resources within the growing budget of the NHS, which we all welcome, should be targeted at health need? Does the Minister understand that there is a growing perception throughout the NHS, including in Northamptonshire, that resources in the health service are no longer allocated in a way that reflects the health needs of the population, but are increasingly distributed in a way that reflects the political needs of the Government? Is there not an urgent need—

The right hon. Gentleman is straying into territory that is slightly dangerous for his party. His colleague the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) said that health funding was inadequate because his PCT was under target, but the formula balances a range of factors, including deprivation, age, rurality and market forces, in producing notional target allocations for all PCTs in the country. Recently, the Opposition have suggested that health resources should be distributed according to what they called the “burden of disease”. The result of such a policy would be that the constituencies of every Minister on the Front Bench today would get significant extra resources, at the expense of the areas represented by the people who are pointing their fingers at me right now. The Tory party needs to decide—

Perhaps the Minister can help me, because my constituents, who used to be in the former West Lancashire PCT, are a little confused. The money from last year’s budget top-slicing will be used to finance NHS facilities in Lancashire, but that excludes the Southport and Ormskirk hospital, which serves my constituents. Moreover, South Sefton PCT—

Order. That is where a brief question should end, so we shall stop there and let the Minister answer.

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Overspending by any part of the NHS means that another part of the system has to underspend to make up for that poor use of resources. I represent a constituency very close to hers, and areas such as ours are having to help the NHS collectively and put money into the system to help other areas where there are financial pressures. She is right to say that the system should ensure that the money goes to the areas that need it most, and I shall look very carefully at the problem involving the Southport and Ormskirk hospital.

Let us try again, after the travesty of an answer that the Minister gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Mr. Dorrell), a former Secretary of State for Health. The Government calculate the need for health care according to the weighted capitation allocation derived from deprivation indices, but the Minister must know that that need is determined largely by morbidity, and hence age. Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT has a projected deficit of £4 million, and it is being condemned to the regime of cash freeze and cuts experienced by most PCTs that serve older populations. Non-existent public health provision has failed socially deprived areas. Will the Minister concede that his funding formula discriminates against elderly people?

No, I most certainly will not. Our health formula gets funding into the areas that need it most, but it is time the hon. Gentleman made his mind up. I think that I heard him correctly: he has just said, at the Dispatch Box, that funding should be distributed according to age. However, less than two months ago the Opposition issued a policy document that stated that funds should be distributed according to the “burden of disease”. That is entirely different. The burden of disease—that is, the incidence of diseases such as cancer or coronary heart disease per 100,000 of the population—is larger in my constituency of Leigh than it is in his constituency of Eddisbury. If the Opposition want funding to be distributed according to age, they need to change their policy.