The past week has seen more progress in the fight for better healthcare in Herefordshire.
Local MP Jesse Norman questioned the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, in Parliament on the funding of rural hospitals and clinical commissioning groups; an issue on which he has been campaigning since before 2010.
“Given the under-funding that rural communities have long suffered, does the Secretary of State share my view that setting clinical commissioning group allocations should be an evidence-based process including sparsity and old age; and will he ignore the calls from the Shadow Health Secretary, who is seeking to cut the previous NHS allocations in areas such as Herefordshire?”
In response, the Secretary of State agreed, saying that the Government have depoliticised NHS funding decisions by placing them under the control of NHS England, but that despite the technical difficulties involved the NHS was seeking to remedy historical imbalances in funding for rural areas.
Speaking afterwards, Jesse said "I have been fighting for many years for fairer allocation of funding to our hospitals and GPs in Herefordshire, and we are slowly making progress.
"Only this week we saw that stroke care will be remaining in the county, an issue I first pressed with the then Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley MP, in August 2012.
“There is still a long way to go, but this is a further positive move forward.”
The full Hansard extract is below:
Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con):
Like other rural communities, Herefordshire has long suffered from chronic underfunding in health care. Does the Secretary of State share my view that setting clinical commissioning group allocations should be an evidence-based process that takes into account factors including sparsity and old age? Also, will he ignore the calls from the shadow Health Secretary, who was seeking to cut the previous NHS allocations in areas such as Herefordshire?
Mr Jeremy Hunt:
I agree with my hon. Friend that it has to be done on the basis of evidence. Part of that is an important change that the Government have made, which the Labour party criticised a great deal. We have depoliticised the process by giving it to NHS England, where it is decided at arm’s length from Ministers on the basis of need. It is challenging to do it fairly. There are some historical imbalances, and we have to do what we can to address them, but we have to do it in a way that is fair and is not tarnished by party politics.