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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Cumbria escapes health cutbacks

Cumbria has escaped stinging cuts to its overall health budget.

More than £663m has been allocated to NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for 2013/14.

NHS England has allocated more than £677m to Cumbria in 2014/15 and nearly £689m for 2015/16.

Charles Welbourn, the NHS Cumbria CCG’s chief finance officer, had warned the county could be set to lose up to £60m under proposed changes to the way the money is dished out.

He feared this could lead to “catastrophic consequences” for the county’s health services. But Mr Welbourn has welcomed NHS England’s decision.

He said: “NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group made strong representations to NHS England regarding the review of CCG allocations as we considered there were many issues relating to Cumbria that were not appropriately reflected in the proposed changes.

“Now that CCG allocations for 2014/15 and 2015/16 have been announced, it would appear that the NHS in Cumbria is not facing further cuts in funding to add to an already challenging financial environment for all health and care organisations in the county.”

NHS England has adopted a new national formula for allocating funding to each area for health services.

The body says the changes will help ensure funding matches the needs of local populations. It adds that the formula is based on more accurate, detailed data and includes a deprivation measure specifically aimed at tackling health inequalities.

All CCGs that decide on local health services will receive a funding increase matching inflation in the next two years while the most underfunded areas, and those with fast-growing populations, will receive even more, a spokesman said.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed warned that any cuts to NHS Cumbria CCG were fundamentally wrong and would decimate local services.

He wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to oppose the original settlement, which could have seen £60m cut from Cumbria , and said it is right the Government has now backtracked and protected the budget in real terms.

But Mr Reed added: “There is heavy pressure on our local services caused by multiple factors – rising demand, a chaotic top-down reorganisation, understaffing as highlighted by the Keogh Review and reports from the CQC, as well as massive cuts to social care funding.”

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