Cuts to health budget ‘make no sense’ when lives are already shorter

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A SHAKE-UP of NHS funding which could take more than £28m from Hull’s health budget “makes no sense” when life expectancy in the city is already one of the worst in the country.

Councillors will be discussing changes to the funding formula next week for local Clinical Commissioning Groups, which academics have already warned will hit the poorest, less healthy areas in the north.

Health researchers at Durham University, Professor Clare Bambra and Dr Alison Copeland, say removing the element that takes account of deprivation and putting a greater emphasis on the age of the population will increase the gap in life expectancy between the poorest and most affluent parts of England.

A boy born today in Hull can expect to live to 76 – seven years fewer than a boy in East Dorset – while a girl born in the city will live to 80, six years fewer than their counterpart in Dorset.

According to Public Health England, people in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Hull and northern Lincolnshire are at least 40 per cent more likely to suffer a premature death than those in the best performing parts of the south.

Hull has the worst health overall in the region and some of the worst in England, with 375 people in every 100,000 dying early, usually from heart disease, respiratory ailments, cancer or liver problems.

Nearly 30 per cent of adults smoke and only 43 per cent of adults are physically active – the worst rate in the country.

Chair of the health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny commission Coun Danny Brown said cutting nearly nine per cent of the budget could result in services being cut and waiting times rising.

Coun Brown said: “It doesn’t make sense. Our deprivation levels are higher than many of those in the south of the country. Already people are struggling. The fact people live seven years less (in Hull) must tell you something.”

Prof Bambra told the Yorkshire Post: “The new formula does not take into account the additional health needs of deprived areas such as Hull and it will particularly disadvantage the North. It will be up to each CCG what to cut, but they will obviously have less money to spend.”

Other communities, including Barnsley, Doncaster parts of Leeds, and Wakefield, will suffer even higher percentage cuts, than Hull’s 8.9 per cent hit. Dearne and Barnsley MPs have written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for a review as their budget is facing a 13.5 per cent cut, or £40.8m.