Doctors fear £41million Sunderland health service cuts will make city ‘the biggest loser’

Dr. Roger Ford
Dr. Roger Ford
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DOCTORS have warned that more than £41million earmarked for frontline health services on Wearside could be cut if a new funding formula gets the go-ahead.

It is feared Sunderland could be the biggest loser in the North East if the controversial Funding Review of Allocations model is rolled out across the country.

Cuts to hospital services, screening programmes, stop smoking drives and waiting times for non-urgent treatments could be hit by the proposed shake-up.

NHS England has put out for consultation the model penned by an independent advisory group, where deprivation and health inequality indicators have been excluded.

If the model for the redistribution of Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) cash is used, then the region is expected to lose out “significantly” to the south.

Recent figures have revealed that if the formula had been deployed for 2013/14, the NHS in the North East would have lost more than £228million. Medics at the British Medical Association and Local Medical Committees have written to MPs expressing their fears.

A country-wide consultation process is under way between NHS England and CCGs, with a final decision yet to be made.

It is thought Sunderland CCG would lose an estimated £41,688,000, followed by Gateshead, at £21,310,000, and South Tyneside, at £19,154,000.

It is expected that areas in the south, such as Thames Valley and Wessex would all gain. Dr Roger Ford, secretary of Sunderland Local Medical Committee, said: “Consideration of these proposals must be in the context of current health care outcomes in Sunderland coupled with our high levels of deprivation, morbidity and significantly raised premature death rates compared with more affluent parts of the country.

“The proposals represent cuts in Sunderland’s health care budget in excess of 11 per cent.”

It is expected the review group will make detailed proposals to NHS England’s Board in December about the 2014-15 allocations. A final report is expected to follow next July.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “The review group has just completed a round of regional engagement events, at which representatives from all NHS organisations came together to hold honest and pragmatic discussions about how funding should be allocated.

“The primary aim is to allocate funds where they will have the biggest impact in improving patient outcomes across the country while ensuring equal access for equal need.”