A particular beef of mine is the grossly unfair underfunding of Lincolnshire public services, assessed at an eye watering £100m pa – or around £500 per household. As the austerity programme bites it will affect vital services in every part of the country, but if you are already underfunded……..the impact will be even more severe. I blame our failed local political leaders for this. Read on.
Our local hospitals have again gone on alert telling Lincolnshire residents not to go to A&E unless it is absolutely essential, as the hospitals are overfull – again. This follows earlier alerts last month as well as reports over the past 24 months or so of continuing problems, such as long waiting times.
Hospitals are at the end of a complex chain of services involving social care, nursing homes, community care and GP’s; some of the failures of Lincolnshire’s health economy can be tracked back to a failure of leadership within the NHS, especially by the former East Midlands Strategic Health Authority and our own PCT who had the statutory duty to co-ordinate this myriad of services and prevent people going to hospital where that was not necessary. Around 17% of those in hospital are admitted because these other, often community based, services either do not exist or are in adequate.
But the that is not the only problem. In 2009 based on the government’s own calculations of need, Lincolnshire’s NHS was underfunded by £70 million in comparison with other parts of the country, many of which, especially in the south east, were over-funded. Money was supposed to have been moved from them to us but – you’ve got it – it was not. It was left in the ‘too difficult to do box’ so those in the leafy suburbs of London and their big teaching hospitals continue to be ‘over-funded’.
But it is not just the NHS.
It is also local government. The government agreed in 2012 that many local government services in rural areas were relatively underfunded and other parts of the country were over-funded. They said money should be moved from those more affluent areas via a series of changes to the grant distribution formula. Do you think we got it? Answers on a post card.
If you need a clue the answer is 2 letters and starts with an N.
If the money had been moved it should have brought £16 million into the county but because of ‘damping’ to prevent losses in grants for those affluent areas this money too never arrived. In fact it is worse as the total ‘damping’, taking into account sums from earlier years, is £21m pa – or getting on for £100 per household.
But is it is not just the NHS and local government.
It is also the police. A tidy £7m short with yes you’ve got it the south east and urban areas, often with lower crime rates than us, having bigger grants. I have commented upon this in the past – read about it here and here.
So that’s where the £100m comes from. The equivalent of circa 2,500 jobs which could either be created or protected. Quite an economic boost and it should have been a big buffer against the cuts and could well have prevented the problems ULHT currently have; if it has affected health when will it start to affect other services? Is this just a sign of things to come?
So what do they decide down in London? Lets leave the affluent south east over-funded. You can almost hear them saying ‘Don’t bother to move the money because Lincolnshire’s not like Guildford or Tunbridge Wells with lots of important people to upset and their politicians won’t make much of a fuss either.’
Now that’s the real problem. This has been known about for years and what have our local political leaders done? What has our conservative led County Council done? What have our conservative MP’s done (or the former Labour MP for Lincoln for that matter) and what did our conservative led police authority do? Not a lot. To add insult to injury the conservatives are standing in the county council elections under a banner of ‘STANDING UP FOR LINCOLNSHIRE’.
Wonder if we can report them to trading standards?