West Cornwall action call on £7m NHS shortfall
HEALTH campaigners in west Cornwall have called on councillors and MPs to act over what they say is Government underfunding of £7 million in the coming year.
A report by Health Initiative Cornwall highlights a gulf between funding for primary care trusts in places such as London and more rural ones, such as Cornwall's.
It claims Cornwall's PCT has been underfunded by more than £200 million in the past six years and a below-inflation rise this year of 2.7 per cent will result in a £7 million shortfall.
The report was penned by the group's chairman Joe McKenna, vice- chairman Graham Webster and St Just Cornwall councillor Chris Goninan.
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An accompanying letter to MPs and councillors says: "This underfunding might just be acceptable in these times of economic recession, if it applied to the country as a whole, but when we see that our underfunding is being used to support other areas, and in particular those within our capital city, then it is simply not acceptable, or fair, or just."
The Government publishes a target annual funding figure for each PCT and an actual amount, and has promised to reduce the discrepancy.
In 2011-12, HIC says, 61 PCTs received more than their target figure and 88 less, including Cornwall. It claims England's 13 top PCTs, 12 of them in London, will this year be overfunded by £791 million.
The report says: "All Cornwall's publicly elected representatives, both within Parliament and County Hall, need to get together and spearhead a campaign that will change this iniquitous situation and ensure we get the funding we are told we need to deliver the healthcare services we need."
From 2013 funds will go direct to GP-led groups, which HIC says offers a great opportunity to press for change.
They say more focus should also be given to increase the 'weighting' for areas of rural deprivation.
West Cornwall MP Andrew George said the £56 million funding shortfall last year could have "wiped out the debt of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) at a stroke.
"I am going to be asking health ministers how quickly we can get to the target level and whether we can get compensation for the years of underfunding. I will also be asking the government to write off that RCHT debt."