HC Deb 12 May 1992 vol 207 cc482-3
4. Mr. Channon

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has for providing extra money for underfunded health districts in overfunded health regions.

Dr. Mawhinney

Regional health authorities are responsible for revenue allocations to health districts. Every regional health authority was given a real increase of at least 3.5 per cent. for 1992–93, allowing a margin for all regions to bring underfunded districts closer to their weighted capitation share.

Mr. Channon

Is my hon. Friend aware that for many years Southend has been in this position, that there has been some modest extra help, which is welcome and which has provided extra benefits for residents of Southend, but that the process must go on? Will he make it his policy while he holds his portfolio to ensure that money follows the patient, so that those who treat most patients are given adequate money to do so?

Dr. Mawhinney

Yes. I know of my right hon. Friend's continuing concern about this matter. I am grateful that he recognises that North East Thames region went out of its way to be helpful to Southend, which started the year at about 10 per cent. below average and, as a result of the extra money provided to it in this financial year, is now less than 5 per cent. below average. I am glad that my right hon. Friend welcomes that, and I can assure him that the process will continue. I hope that it will even reach a conclusion in the next financial year.

Mrs. Mahon

Will the Minister comment on underfunding in intensive care units over the past five years, and on the report by Paddy Ross, the eminent surgeon who resigned from the Tory party because of undefrfunding and the Government's reforms? I will pass his letter on to the Minister. He states that a woman died in the Royal Hampshire hospital, possibly because of underfunding in the intensive care unit. Will the Minister make up that funding and stop tragedies like that happening again?

Dr. Mawhinney

I will be happy to receive the letter if the hon. Lady cares to send it to me. Her question must be viewed in the context of record spending in the health service this year, including in the Halifax area. Against that background I find her comments rather hard to understand.