Wigan losing out in health funding

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WIGAN gets half the public health funding enjoyed by England’s wealthiest areas.

The borough is losing out to the leafy and incredibly well-healed Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in the battle for resources, despite huge sickness and disability bequeathed by its former mining and heavy industrial past.

Now Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is challenging Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to change the formula under which funding is calculated so that it stops working so spectacularly against areas in the North West.

The borough is set to receive £59 in public health grant per person.

But in ultra-posh Kensington and Chelsea - where life expectancy is much higher - the grant is £130 per person.

However the Department of Health today defended Wigan’s settlement as a fair one for our borough.

The two Tory MPs who represent Kensington and Chelsea constituencies - Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Greg Hands - wouldn’t comment.

Ms Nandy is calling on the Health Secretary Hunt to look again at the allocations and abide by his Department’s own aim of reducing inequalities in life expectancy between areas.

She said: “The evidence is clear that public health problems are closely linked to poverty so people in Wigan will find it hard to believe that Kensington and Chelsea, home to some of the richest people in the country, is due to get £130 per person compared to £59 in Wigan.”

A Department of Health spokesman said that Wigan would receive £23m this financial year, which represented a “real terms” increase in funding, and a grant per-head allocation that is above the national average.

He said: “Under the new system, funding will be specifically targeted at those areas with the worse health outcomes. This means that the areas with the greatest needs will receive more money.”