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Local NHS rurality funding could face axe

March 24, 2017 4:59 PM

Local hospitals could face a further cut of £15million next year, as the government threatens to slash funding given to the local NHS Trust for being rural. South Lakes MP Tim Farron is calling for the government to guarantee that it will continue to provide the same amount of funding that it does now for the next five years.

Following a campaign by Tim during the coalition years, the Morecambe Bay Trust became the first in the country to be given a funding boost in recognition of its rurality and the challenges this presents.

The 'local price modification' is a tariff uplift meaning that the Trust receives more money for each service it provides. This has been worth an extra £35million to the Trust. However, the government is now suggesting that this total might be reduced to around £20million from next year.

When it was first awarded, the NHS watchdog Monitor declared that it was in recognition of the Trust serving "a low-density population" with "three hospital sites that are dispersed across a large geographical area covering Cumbria and Lancashire".

Tim met with local health bosses earlier this week to discuss the issues facing the Morecambe Bay Trust.

Tim said: "The government is letting down our local NHS and everyone who relies on it. It is threatening to slash the amount of funding the Trust is given for covering a large rural area and failing to provide guarantees for the future.

"This is money that helps to ensure that a large rural area like ours has three hospitals - in Kendal, Lancaster and Barrow. Without this extra money, this could be at risk.

"The government must commit to maintaining this funding and guarantee it for five years so that the Trust can plan ahead. Further cuts on top of those already planned would be disastrous for local health services."