Education and Health

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 6:01 pm on 2nd June 2010.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster Conservative, Milton Keynes North 6:01 pm, 2nd June 2010

It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to this debate. I am certainly seeing the benefits of the election, as I think that this is the first time that I have been called to speak before 9 pm in the five years that I have been here. It is also a pleasure to follow Mr Barron, who was an excellent Chair of the Health Committee in the last Parliament. I regard him as a friend and he did a sterling job.

I wish to thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health for coming to visit Milton Keynes hospital yesterday. I said during my election campaign that I would make health my priority and, in the past two years, we have had some particular problems in Milton Keynes at the maternity unit. It was very reassuring to have my right hon. Friend visit yesterday and to see that the hospital, which is desperately trying to do the right things to put matters right, will have the full support of the Department of Health in trying to deliver the positive change that we all want to see.

I shall address three issues-the funding formula, targets and waste. NHS funds are allocated to primary care trusts on the basis of a complex weighted capitation formula. The allocation is based mainly on the number and age distribution of a PCT's population and then adjusted for a large variety of other factors, including the type of population; deprivation; mortality rates; and, controversially, the difference between previous allocation and formula results.

The formula leads to a marked difference in per capita allocation by PCT across the country. For example, in the current year the PCT with the lowest funding was Leicestershire with £1,330 per head, and the highest was Liverpool with £2,140 per head. This year, Milton Keynes PCT received £1,410 per head, the 12th lowest in the country. In other words, if Milton Keynes, with a crude population of approximately 240,000, had received average national capitation, it would have an extra £51 million more than the £349 million it actually received, and had it been funded at the average rate of a northern PCT, it would have received £74 million pounds more. Just to underline this point at a regional level, South Central strategic health authority received £5.8 billion for its 4.1 million people. Had it received a typical northern per capita allocation, it would have received an extra £1.2 billion.

Given those numbers, perhaps it is not surprising that the NHS in the south of England struggles to make ends meet.