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16.10.13

Age of population to determine NHS funding

The new NHS spending formula could see cuts to the poorest areas, as age is given priority over deprivation, according to researchers from Durham University.

In a letter to the BMJ, they wrote: “These changes could undermine the principle of ‘equal opportunity of access’ for people in need.”

The plans under consideration by NHS England could see funding for English CCGs allocated based on the age of the population rather than the level of deprivation. This could mean that poorer communities in the north would lose out to already wealthy southern areas.

The first element of the funding formula is the size of local populations and NHS England could replace the health inequality weighting with one that focuses more on age. The would help to combat extra pressure introduced by an aging population with more long-term and chronic illnesses.

A spokesman for NHS England, said: “The funding allocations review group has been exploring and considering the best approach to ensuring that any future funding allocation proposals ensure equal access to health services across the country and address health inequalities. It is only right that as part of this process we continue to examine the risks and benefits of a range of potential options.

“CCGs’ commissioning responsibilities are only one part of the full range of NHS services commissioned, so it is vital to understand their allocations in the context of primary care, specialised services and social care, and ensure that money is targeted to the areas in which it will have the biggest impact in improving patient outcomes.”

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