After a couple of weeks in which the NHS both locally and across the country has been creaking, if not in an actual crisis, it’s a huge disappointment to report today that, not to put too fine a point on it, we’re being short-changed on health cash.
The Byzantine workings of central government cash allocation are tricky enough to understand at the best of times, but in essence there is a formula which dictates how much the government should dole out.
This cash then goes to the clinical commissioning groups which fund services in their areas.
It’s dependent on the perceived need of an area, how much it has historically got and what the predictions are for the future.
But as we report today, what you should get and what you do get are two entirely different things.
For example, under the formula, Portsmouth should receive £1,120 for each resident of the borough. Instead, the CCG has been given £1,101 person.
And the discrepancy is worse in other areas. Fareham and Gosport should see £1,005 per person, but has been given £913 this financial year. And South Eastern Hampshire, covering Havant, should be getting £1,004 but has been given £903.
We understand, of course, that the country is short of money at the moment.
We also understand that every area in the country could no doubt argue a convincing case for being given more.
But when you look at the average funding per person across the country for locally-commissioned healthcare – which in September was estimated at £1,371 – it seems that things are not as they should be.
Hampshire may be perceived as a leafy, affluent county, and in many areas it is lucky enough to be so. But we know there are parts with real health problems – diabetes, obesity, cancer, smoking and alcohol-related issues... the list goes on.
We don’t ask for special treatment, just fairness under the government’s own guidance. And it doesn’t look as if we’re receiving that.