Norfolk is not getting fair share of NHS funding, claim health leaders and MPs
- Credit: QEH
As yet another health trust in Norfolk in plunged into special measures by inspectors health correspondent Geraldine Scott looks at what is going wrong in the county's NHS.
Half of the health trusts which cover Norfolk are now in special measures and deemed inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The latest rating came at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn this week, where inspectors said 'leadership within the [maternity] service had broken down' and that the hospital was unsafe and dysfunctional.
But the QEH joins the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the mental health trust, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), in having the worst possible rating which can be given.
At the NNUH, inspectors were met by a lack of staff, ambulances queuing outside, and patients treated in corridors.
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While at NSFT, like QEH, was taken out of special measures in recent years only to be put back in within the last 12 months.
The East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) is rated requires improvement, the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston is rated as good, and Norfolk Community Health and Care is rated as outstanding.
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But an argument has been made that the county gets a raw deal when it comes to funding, making it difficult for improvements to be made.
Speaking when the trust was judged inadequate back in June, Mark Davies, chief executive of the NNUH, said: 'I think it's clear at the moment Norfolk is not getting its fair share [of funding].'
This was echoed yesterday by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, a former health minister.
He said: 'It is unfair for the people of Norfolk. I've talked about the respective funding of Addenbrooke's and the Norfolk and Norwich with Mark Davies and others, and the number of people arriving at the A&E department at the NNUH is dramatically higher than Addenbrooke's and they are also coping with a PFI deal which is not accounted for in any funding.'
NHS Digital data showed Cambridge University Hospitals, which runs Addenbrooke's, received 33,435 patients by ambulance or helicopter in 2017/18. The NNUH received 46,100.
Annual accounts showed the NNUH received £487m from NHS England and clinical commissioning groups combined in 2017/18, while CUH received £642m.
Like elsewhere, Norfolk is suffering with a recruitment and retention crisis in health and social care, but Mr Lamb said this was particularly a challenge here compared to the bigger cities.
He added: 'I'm absolutely sure that part of the issue is funding, we have quite an elderly population in parts of Norfolk, in north Norfolk and north West Norfolk where the QEH is, and that leads to a higher cost of healthcare and we are not being adequately funded to meet these needs.'
David Edwards, the new chairman at Healthwatch Norfolk, has 25 years of experience as a hospital chief executive.
He said the areas which traditionally got more funding, such as London, continued to do so and that had not changed for many years.
He said: 'They have really not fixed the differences in funding across the UK.'
He also said Healthwatch, which represents patient views, had a role in pushing for more funding for the county.
He said: 'I think we can make that contribution not just locally but also nationally. There is an opportunity to do that and I'm hoping to do that.'
Labour MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis added: 'One by one, local NHS chiefs have given up pretending they can manage their way out of the crisis in health and social care created by this government. Some have even dared to hint it may have something to do with the disastrous level of underfunding at a national level.'
Conservative MP for Norwich North Chloe Smith said she wanted to ensure funding was spent fairly across the country.
She said: 'The Conservatives are providing an extra £39m a week for the NHS in a long-term funding plan.
'With that, I expect the NHS to develop a proper plan for spending every penny well and fairly across the country. I'll be asking for that on behalf of constituents.'
The Department of Health and Social Care was contacted for comment.