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Poor areas to get more NHS money

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Poor areas to get more NHS money

Deprived areas have been targeted by the government for more NHS funding to help reduce health inequalities.

Primary care trusts - responsible for 75% of the NHS budget - are to get 19.5% more money (£135bn) from 2006-7 to 2007-8, the health secretary said.

John Reid also announced changes to the funding formula to channel more money to 88 of the most deprived areas.

But the Conservatives said the money was not new as it had already been promised to the NHS.

Mr Reid said the changes to the funding formula would make the distribution fairer.

By the end of 2007-8 the 88 spearhead PCTs, covering large parts of the Midlands, North and inner London, will receive £1,552 per head, compared to a national average of £1,388 per head.

In addition, he said the poorest 5% - about 15 PCTs - were assured funding worth £1,710 for each person.

However, Mr Reid guaranteed all PCTs, which provide primary and community care and commission hospital services, would get an increase of at least 16.8% over the two years.

Mr Reid said the money would help improve access and provide significant resources to prevent ill-health as promised in autumn's Public Health White Paper.

'Devil in the detail'

"Patients want the NHS to move away from being a sickness service towards becoming a true health service.

"Today's allocations will help the NHS locally to recruit school nurses and health trainers to tackle the growing trends in obesity as well as improve services for sexually transmitted infections."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow said the funding increase was welcome but the "devil was in the detail".

He said the government needed to do more to ensure PCTs had the freedom to decide how they meet local need.

And he added: "After eight years of a Labour government more people are getting sicker, more people are having trouble finding a dentist and more people are struggling to get appointments with GPs."

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "There is actually no extra money, this has all been promised before.

"It is simply an announcement to divide the cake up differently."

And he also said the government was targeting the 88 areas for election purposes.

Money eaten up

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the health watchdog the King's Fund welcomed the extra funds for deprived areas, but warned that people should not be thinking into thinking all was "rosy in the garden".

He said much of the new money would be eaten up by implementing new contractual arrangements for doctors and nurses, inflation and rising demand for health services.

"There is a real danger that government rhetoric will run ahead of what the NHS is able to deliver.

"The NHS' flexibility to meet government targets and priorities will be reduced by all of these various financial demands, which are likely to contribute to widespread deficits."

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/health/4249985.stm

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