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William Hague criticises funding distribution
LEADING Conservatives have condemned the “postcode lottery” affecting health service funding, after it emerged key services at a general hospital could be maintained with extra cash.
Richmondshire MP William Hague, Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh and Tory county councillors have challenged ministers to right the “gross injustice”, after it emerged Londoners receive £800 more per head annually for NHS services than North Yorkshire residents.
The county’s health providers receive £1,410 for each resident a year, £200 less than the national average, despite it being England’s largest county geographically and having a high proportion of elderly residents, who use more NHS services.
The Conservative calls follow the doctor leading proposals to downgrade the maternity and paediatric units at the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton , stating it would be possible to avert the measures with extra funding from central Government.
As Mr Hague was meeting foreign ministers at the UN General Assembly in New York, he criticised North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust’s decision to prevent public consultation on a clinical model that would see the services maintained, due to it not being viable under its current budget.
He said: “The trust’s decision to put forward for public consultation two clinical models that both propose a midwifery- led maternity service is deeply disappointing and would mean hundreds of mothers-to-be are no longer eligible to deliver their babies at the Friarage.”
Mr Hague said he would ask Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to visit a rural practice in his constituency to view the challenges facing NHS services.
He said: “I regularly draw to the attention of health ministers the unique health challenges facing rural areas, which typically include a high proportion of elderly people and sparsely populated areas.”
Miss McIntosh, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, said getting the funding formula was her top priority.
She said she would discuss the Friarage proposals and long-term future of the 16-bed Lambert Memorial Community Hospital, in Thirsk, at a meeting with health minister Dr Daniel Poulter next month.
Thirsk county councillor Gareth Dadd said: “This is not party political. It is historic and a failure of recognition of the rurality and ageing population by the previous Labour Government also. It is about equity and fairness to the residents of North Yorkshire and York.”