Local NHS set to lose out by £5m after Government changes funding rules  

Councillors at the care services overview and scrutiny committee on 14 January 2003 were told that Wandsworth Primary Care Trust would receive only the national minimum funding increase over the next three years.

The problem has been caused by a new needs formula used for the first time by the Department of Health. This suggests Wandsworth is receiving 15 percent more resources than implied by its level of need. Under the current system the PCT's allocation actually falls below its published level of need (by 2.42 percent). The new interpretation results in the PCT in getting less money than it should for future years.

Council leader Edward Lister says ministers have not played fair by local people:

"They have imposed a new system without consultation and without explanation. As a direct result the local NHS will get £5 million less over the next three years than it was expecting. The council has spent many years campaigning for more accountability in health funding and a better deal for Wandsworth residents. Once again local people have been shortchanged. The Government has systematically understated the true level of need in an inner city borough like Wandsworth. This has a direct impact on the amount of money we get for health care."

Health secretary Alan Milburn (pictured left) will be asked to justify a £5 million cut in NHS funding for the borough. Cllr Lister continued:

"We will be calling on Alan Milburn to open up the books and show how his officials have arrived at these new calculations of need. Without the information it is difficult to challenge the figures. The whole South West London health authority area loses under the new system. The formula combines health factors with social needs based on income, education and housing.

Wandsworth suffers because deprivation is spread across the borough rather than being concentrated in any one area. The new calculation gives a higher weighting where need is focused in small, localised areas.

The change fails to reflect the large number of people in Wandsworth receiving state benefits - a significant indicator of need. The borough has the 56th highest level of claimants in the country.

The traditionally high level of mental health need in the borough has also been downgraded under the new system. The primary care trust has also been penalised for managing its waiting lists more effectively than others. A £200 million pot of extra funding has been steered solely to those who had been underperforming.

The new funding regime covers the three years from April 2003 to March 2006. Councillors agreed to refer their concerns directly to the Secretary of State.

15 January 2003