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COMMENT: ‘When it comes to healthcare, Haringey’s need is at least as great as inner London’

Lynne Featherstone, Hornsey and Wood Green MP. Lynne Featherstone, Hornsey and Wood Green MP.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
1:33 PM

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, puts forward her argument for fairer health funding for Haringey.

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Local hospitals, GPs and clinics – these services really are the lifelines of our communities. We use them frequently, rely on them and will fight to protect them.

There have been numerous threats to our services, most notably when the Labour government tried to close the Whittington’s A&E in 2010. Thankfully, our fight against that closure was successful.

Alongside these much publicised challenges, there is a less well-known, historic funding problem which continues to affect the borough – and the local Lib Dems and I are campaigning to fix it.

Every year, London boroughs like Haringey receive a certain amount of money from government to fund these services.

But for years, under successive Labour and Tory governments, Haringey has been losing out, with far less funding than we need.

An outdated funding formula has classified our borough as being in “outer London” and, therefore, needing less money than neighbouring boroughs such as Camden and Islington.

For the 2012/13 financial year, for instance, Haringey received £256 less health funding per person than Camden and £212 less than Islington. That meant, overall, Haringey received £70million less funding than Camden.

This is just not right. Perhaps, 40 years ago, inner London boroughs had a greater need, but not now. The levels of deprivation and need in Haringey are now at least equal to those in inner London boroughs.

And this underfunding is having a direct effect on people in Haringey. Local nurses have told me that training opportunities for community nurses in Islington are far better than those in Haringey.

Screening facilities, such as cholesterol and diabetes testing, are better in other boroughs – Islington residents can access these in supermarkets. A Haringey resident who was shopping in Islington was turned away from this service.

And most shockingly, one GP reported that he’d contacted a hospice on behalf of a patient and the hospice asked for the patient’s postcode. The hospice was reluctant to pick up a patient from Haringey – because they were aware of the funding situation.

This is why I have been campaigning, along with the Haringey Lib Dems and residents, for fairer health funding for Haringey.

Our similar campaign for fairer education funding was successful last year, securing an extra £7.3million for local schools per year – so we know change is possible.

And this year, NHS England finally agreed to review the funding formula. This was a great step forward in the campaign – but, of course, they have to change it for the better!

The new proposed funding formula and figures should be available by December 17.

I have sent in extensive submissions and a report to NHS England arguing for more funding for Haringey. I very much hope we see an increase in funding. But if we don’t – the fight goes on!

I will be letting residents know what happens ASAP. If you’d like to sign up to receive the email update, you can do so by visiting www.lynnefeatherstone.org/contact.

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