Patients in Cornwall are being given a poor deal because health services are being “starved of hundreds of millions of pounds”, it was claimed yesterday.
A report from Health Initiative Cornwall claims that since 2006 Cornwall has received £220 million less than the Government says it deserves.
The lack of cash could mean a hospital in Cornwall will close and other health services would be axed.
The health campaign group also states: “It is clear that fragmentising healthcare into smaller, stand-alone units has not worked. Allowing part of the NHS sector to commission certain key health services from the private sector has not worked either.
“The recent fiasco of bed blocking and the reaction to Serco's out of hours service show that fragmenting healthcare is not the way forward.”
Health Initiative Cornwall believes the National Health Service should “become just that”, as a single unified health and social care body. By having a “totally integrated health care system” denial over who was responsible and at fault would “simply disappear,” the report claims.
The group adds: “We believe that this is not re-inventing the wheel but is a very worthwhile tweak to what we have today and would truly lead to a genuine whole system approach focussed entirely on patient care, delivered for the first time in a totally seamless and integrated manner.”
They quote NHS England appointed a new chief executive officer Simon Stevens as saying the NHS was facing its biggest ever challenge and adding: “Our traditional partitioning of health service - GPs, hospital outpatients, A&E departments, community nurses, emergency mental healthcare, out-of-hours units, ambulance services and so on - no longer makes much sense.”
It has prompted West Cornwall MP Andrew George, who is also a Health Select Committee member, to call for Health Ministers and officials to review funding systems.
Mr George, who recently convened a seminar for local voluntary organisations and health campaigners, is seeking evidence from NHS Kernow (the Cornish Clinical Commissioning Group) and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust. He warned: “Cornwall has been starved of more cash over the last decade than any region in the country. And our main hospital receives less funding per operation than any hospital in the country, even though its costs are the same as elsewhere!”
Mr George thanked Health Initiative Cornwall for its report on health and social care funding.
He added: “Although health funding comes in a complex web and layers of separate allocations and tariffs with multiple strings attached, the overall picture is clear. Cornish patients get less funding than the average.
“Cornish health services have been starved of hundreds of millions of pounds the Government says we deserve. “Pressure to put things out to tender, to run every service as a business unit and to strangle the system in complex accountancy and tariff packages is diverting attention and resources from the need for fair funding and better integration of services.”
Mr George has written to the Health Secretary to request greater transparency and a review of the funding system.
NHS Kernow's director of operations Andrew Abbott said: “We are committed to making sure everyone can access health services when they need them, wherever they live.
“The NHS across the country needs to deal with cost pressures brought about by inflation, population growth and the increase proportion of older people living with complex care needs - without significant growth in funding this does mean we need to get more from every pound we spend.”
He said that to help improve efficiency, NHS Kernow and Cornwall Council were both “committed to integrating services”, to reduce duplication and improve services for people under its Living Well programme.
This brought together elements of the health and social care budgets that have been separate in the past.
MR Abbott added: “It is also not the case that the former PCT left a local debt for the CCG to pick up; the PCT left a clean balance sheet.
“However, we do have a share of a national legacy for old Continuing Healthcare claims that must be paid. We are advised that this will be in the region of £2.7 million.”