Sunderland and Durham health budget’s slashed by £25million

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley
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PUBLIC health funding is set to be slashed by more than £25million in Sunderland and County Durham amid a shake up of services.

Changes which will see one of the country’s most deprived areas suffer budget cuts while the South gets more cash have today been slammed.

From 2013, responsibility for running the services will pass from Government to councils.

If the proposals are accepted, there is set to be a loss of £56.3million in public health funding across the North East.

Sunderland is expected to lose out by £5.8million, down from £19.4million to £13.6million, while Durham County Council is set to see a cut of £19.7million – 46 per cent of its funding.

Areas including the South East, East of England and South West would gain more money.

Easington MP Grahame Morris has hit out at the Coalition’s plans and branded health secretary Andrew Lansley’s approach as “jerrymandering”.

He has called for more cash to come to the region and says the suggested change allows the south to become richer, much to the detriment of the North.

The former health worker and Labour member said: “This fundamental change is cynical and politically motivated and it is the single biggest attack on reducing health inequalities and bridging the North-South divide in health outcomes.

“This is nothing other than the political jerrymandering of resources as it will channel money directly into the Tory heartlands in the South East, where there is the least need and where people already live the longest.

“Put simply, Andrew Lansley wants to take money from the poorest areas suffering the highest incidences of ill-health and premature death in the North to give it to the leafy suburbs in the South where life expectancy is far higher.”

Mr Morris has demanded a Commons debate and is continuing to campaign against efforts of what calls “backdoor privatisation” of the NHS.

Simon Henig, leader of the Labour-run Durham County Council, said: “It is absolutely vital that the very specific health needs of County Durham are fully appreciated by central Government and that the necessary funds are protected so that we can properly serve those needs.

“On the face of it, it looks as though at some point we could see the money we have available reduce by as much as 50 per cent in an area with some of the most complex health issues in the country.

“Any reduction would put public health services under extreme pressure and it is absolutely right that we should speak up now and voice those concerns.”

A meeting of the council’s cabinet on Wednesday will include an update on the council’s plan on how to deal with cuts while maintaining services.

Revised overall budget reductions for the period 2011 to 2017 are now expected to be in the region of £180million.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham