MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the news that Cambridgeshire health services are to get an extra £20 million this year.
Cambridgeshire healthcare has been underfunded for a very long time, currently getting £35 million below the government’s own calculations for a fair share of NHS spending. Historic PFI schemes at Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals add to the problems, sucking more money away.
Last year, Julian led a Westminster debate calling for a fairer level of funding for Cambridgeshire, and led a delegation from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and Mental Health Trust to see Health Minister Norman Lamb to press the case for an increase.
Julian said: “This increase in funding for Cambridgeshire will go some way to addressing the problems our health services face and is very welcome – but it still doesn’t go far enough.
“We receive three per cent less than the national average against a backdrop of a fast growing county with an ageing population. The government’s own calculations for a fair allocation of NHS money state that Cambridgeshire should receive £35 million more - clearly £20 million closes a good chunk of the gap but still leaves us a long way short.
“The Clinical Commissioning Group is working hard to identify savings but we need a fairer funding formula and I will continue to push for that.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group received £854 million last year - £961 per head of population compared to an average of £1,054 per head of population in East Anglia generally.
Julian has particularly been pressing for more investment in mental health care, and has demanded that a share of the extra money be used to improve services for mental health care in the county.
Last year, despite the huge financial shortfall Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commission group decided to allocate an extra £1.5 million to mental health this year and a further £2.2 million to improve patients’ access to psychological therapies.
“This is welcome,” said Julian, “and I want a healthy proportion of the extra money to also go into improving mental health care. Nationally I want the government to put an extra £500 million a year specifically into mental health.
“I am pleased that we are addressing some of the huge problems left by the last government and I am pleased to see that Cambridgeshire is to get much-needed extra funding for healthcare. The funding formula needs to be changed further, however, to address the problems facing our health services.
“Labour left Cambridgeshire with a low level of funding for health, as well as a legacy of PFI debts and the flawed privatisation of Hinchingbrooke. Just in the past week we have seen that contract, at £1 billion the largest private contract ever in the NHS, collapse.
“And it wasn’t just in Hinchingbrooke that Labour welcomed the private sector. As a result of deals they struck, medical spending on non-NHS providers increased from £1.1 billion in 1997/8 to £7.5 billion by 2009/10. They left our hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy with health outcomes well below the EU15 average.”