The assault on NHS services for those in greatest need begins

Posted on

The Guardian has reported this morning that:

The new independent quango at the heart of the coalition's health reforms has said it will stop using income to determine health spending levels around in the country next year as part of a set of reforms designed to promote "patient choice" in the NHS.

The NHS commissioning board, which will take over £95bn of health spending for patients from next year, said it would discontinue the current funding arrangements, which use a complex formula involving age,poverty and regional price differences to work out how much an average patient in each part of the country should get from the taxpayer.

Traditionally, this system led to charges that the NHS was taking cash from affluent rural areas and handing it to inner-city ones.

So it might have done, but that is precisely because that is where the greatest need has been.

As the article notes

Alan Maynard, professor of health economics at the University of York, said rewarding those that "used health services most would end up with a policy that benefitted richer, Tory-voting areas".

Maynard said: "Poor people tend not to use the health service as much as the rich, because they are poorly educated, often without work. Those that do use the NHS are older and richer. So tying the money to patients' pattern of use will benefit Tory areas … not, perhaps, by design.

"That might be fine, if welfare spending on education and housing and employment was increased: those are the social determinants of whether people, especially the poor, are healthy or not."

I agree with Alan. This is the most massively dangerous re-engineering of the NHS in favour of those with wealth, or towards what are known within it  as"the worried well". To put it another way, it is political engineering at its worst.