Figures reveal Camden is worst-hit area in country for NHS cuts
Surgery for tonsillitis on a list of procedures that will be withdrawn to save money
11 October, 2018 — By Tom Foot
CAMDEN’S health service has been hit harder during the austerity years than any other area in the country.
And official figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show the pain will get worse, with more dramatic drops in funding over the next five years.
Analysis shows that Camden comes bottom of the country’s clinical commission groups – bodies which make local decisions about health spending – in terms of the scale of cuts it faces.
In recent weeks a series of surgical treatments for conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tonsillitis and cataracts have been made no longer available on the NHS, a sign of the budget squeeze ahead. Camden’s Clinical Commissioning Group, meanwhile, confirmed for the first time it was facing a “real-terms reduction” in funding and as a result “difficult decisions that need to be taken”.
The funding statistics, obtained from the House of Commons Library by Labour MP Karen Buck, can be revealed as a five-year funding package is unveiled by the government.
Ms Buck said: “The latest allocation round shows there is simply not enough to protect services in all parts of the country. Yet we also have very high levels of need, not least in respect of mental health services, people living alone, people whose first language isn’t English and, of course, we have all the health issues arising from poverty.”
In 2013, clinical commissioning groups replaced primary care trusts (PCTs) under former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s controversial Health and Social Care Act reforms. Overall, there has been an 8 per cent decrease in funding in terms of pounds per Camden patient since the PCTs were abolished.
John Lipetz, from Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said: “We have certainly lost a whack of money since austerity set in. “All trusts are in deficit. That’s why they are trying to sell off the NHS estate to get quick capital to go to revenue to reduce the deficit.”
Camden CCG said it was dealing with an unprecedented reduction in funding at a time when the health service was crippled by a series of “challenges”.
These included, it said, “stark inequalities” in life expectancy between the rich and the poorer areas of Camden, with 30 per cent of council flats considered not fit for purpose.
Its statement said: “Camden is receiving a real-terms reduction in allocations between 2016-17 and 2020-21 at the same time as our population is growing and many of our patients face increasing clinical complexity and multiple long-term conditions.
It added: “Despite a challenging outlook, Camden CCG is working daily to ensure our health services continue to offer the highest quality care to patients. “We welcome this and all opportunities to engage with residents of Camden on the difficult decisions that need to be taken.”
The Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment specifically on Camden, but said NHS funding would “on average” increase in real terms each year.
It added: “The prime minister has set out a new multi-year funding plan for the NHS, setting the real-terms growth rate for spending in return for the NHS agreeing a new long-term plan with the government later this year. The final settlement and plan will be confirmed at a future fiscal event, subject to an NHS plan that meets the tests we have set out.”