When you go to your GP, you expect to have equal access to treatment, regardless of where you live. We Haringey patients should have the same access to treatment and experience the same waiting times as patients from Islington and Camden. But we don’t.
In September, I called a meeting with group of health professionals, including local GPs. I had discovered figures which suggested that Haringey receives considerably less funding per person than other boroughs. This is due to a historic funding inequality, where ‘inner’ London boroughs receive more money for health services than ‘outer’ boroughs. I wanted to hear the extent to which this was affecting the borough’s health services.
The effects of the current unfair funding are very concerning. Not only do us Haringey patients have to wait longer, but we also may not be able to access some forms of treatment. At the meeting in September, one GP told me an awful story. He explained how he 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 a poorly funded borough such as Haringey.
Basing health funding on a postcode lottery is simply wrong. These days, people move around more, have a greater choice about where to be treated, or are made to visit a particular specialist unit – so we can really be treated anywhere. Haringey also now has substantial health inequalities – on at least a similar level to other boroughs. On this basis, I believe there is now absolutely no reason for Haringey to receive less funding than the ‘inner’ London boroughs.
After 40 years in charge of Haringey, the Labour–run council has not addressed this shocking disparity. I, along with my Liberal Democrat Councillor colleagues, will now run a full campaign to get fairer health funding for our borough.
I have already written a letter to the new Secretary of State for Health, requesting that he meet with myself, GPs and health professionals, and listen to their evidence. I have also contacted my email list and asked them to support the campaign. If you want to join my campaign, or have been affected in any way by the funding shortage, then please let me know – [email protected] or at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Many Haringey residents, especially constituents of Hornsey and Wood Green, will know that I have long campaigned for fairer funding for Haringey’s schools. In short, Haringey schools were receiving less money per child than other boroughs, because of the same inner/outer borough distinction. After a long, hard fought campaign, significant progress has been in this area.
You can expect a similar fight and effort to get fairer health funding for the borough, and I will be keeping everyone updated.
Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey & Wood Green
Tel: 020 8340 5459
She blogs at www.LynneFeatherstone.org and is on Twitter at twitter.com/LFeatherstone
Email: [email protected] or write to me at House of Commons, London SW1A