Exclusive by Tom Bristow
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Patients living in some of the poorest areas of Norfolk are receiving the least amount of money for their GP surgeries, figures obtained by the EDP reveal.
•Ten best funded
1 Horsford Medical Centre – £110
2 Paston Surgery, North Walsham –£86
3 Aldborough Surgery – £86
4 Birchwood Medical Practice, North Walsham -– £85
5 Fakenham Medical Practice – £85
6 Wells Health Centre – £84
7 Elmham Surgery – £84
8 Stalham Green Surgery – £83
9 Hoveton and Wroxham Medical Centre – £81
10 Upwell Health Centre – £79
•Ten worst funded
1 Old Palace Medical Practice, Norwich – £45
2 Prospect Medical Practice, Norwich – £47
3 West Pottergate Medical Practice, Norwich – £48
4 St James’ Medical Practice, King’s Lynn – £51
5 Woodcock Road Surgery, Norwich –£52
6 Wymondham Practice – £56
7 Castle Partnership – Mile End Road, Tuckswood and Gurney surgeries, Norwich – £56
8 West Earlham Health Centre, Norwich – £56
9 St Stephens Gate Medical Practice, Norwich – £58
10 Church Hill Surgery, Diss – £60
It means that medical practices in some of the most deprived areas of the county are given the least amount of cash for doctors, nurses and utility by Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show.
The best funded surgeries are concentrated in north Norfolk, in Horsford, Aldborough, Fakenham, Wells, North Walsham and Hoveton and Wroxham.
The worst funded include those in some of Norwich’s poorest areas – Mile Cross, West Earlham and West Pottergate.
Norfolk PCT, which will be replaced by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in April, said the funding was based on a national formula which took into account the age of the area’s population and deprivation.
But health campaigners called for funding to be spread more evenly.
Tim East, Norfolk County councillor for Costessey, faced a five-month battle to get the funding figures from the PCT. They were supposed to be supplied within 20 working days.
He said: “It is inequitable that GP surgeries in the more affluent areas of Norfolk receive more funding than the poorer ones. This has to be addressed in the changes that will come in with the CCGs.
“Poorer areas have the greatest demand for the health service. I think the distribution of funds should be more even and based on a formula that takes greater account of deprivation and disability.”
Mr East is also campaigning for Costessey surgeries to be given more money as new housing estates have meant health services there are now stretched. Last July, the Roundwell Medical Centre, on Longwater Lane, in Costessey, introduced telephone diagnosis to cope with demand.
“It is disgraceful that they have not taken on board burgeoning communities,” Mr East said. “Why, when Costessey has a burgeoning community, isn’t the allocation re-assessed based on population growth rather than an historic evaluation?”
The Liberal Democrat councillor has also taken up the issue of funding with health minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.
Mr Lamb said: “Payments ultimately have to be based on need. Age is clearly a very strong determiner of health care need. Whether you are wealthy or poor, if you have cancer or dementia the costs are the same.”
He added that the formula for GP funding did take deprivation into account and noted there were also pockets of poverty in north Norfolk.
Elaine Bond, head of contracting for NHS Norfolk and Waveney PCT, said: “The income GP practices receive is based on a variety of factors. This includes patients’ needs, the services the practice provides, the type of contract the practice holds and the historical activity of that surgery. Therefore, one practice in one area with 1,000 patients may receive a different amount of funding to another practice with 1,000 patients.”
In December the Department of Health announced that GP practice income should be more closely linked to deprivation from 2014.