NHS still a 'postcode lottery'Huge differences in spend on cancer patients

09 August 2006

 

Patients are the victims of a ‘postcode lottery’ for treatment of cancer, heart problems and mental health, a report out today has found.

Wide variations in NHS spending mean that in some areas, four times more funding per patient is given to cancer and mental health than in other places.

The study, by the respected King’s Fund think-tank, found that Daventry and South Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) spends £132 per head on cancer and tumours but the Heart of Birmingham Teaching PCT spends around a quarter of that, at just £35 per head.

Cancer care budgets

The proportion of their budget that trusts allocate to cancer care also varies widely across England – from 3 per cent to more than 10 per cent of the total spend, the report said.

Similar stark variations were found in spending on mental health and circulatory problems, including coronary heart disease.

Wyre PCT in Lancashire spends £173 per head on circulatory problems but City and Hackney PCT in east London spends less than half of that, at £68 per head.

The report said such differences appeared to be only partly explained by the different needs of local populations. This left 'unanswered questions' about why PCTs reached different conclusions about spending priorities, and whether the variations harmed 'equity and efficiency.’