Trust fears grant will be spent elsewhere

PUBLISHED: 11:34 09 March 2006 | UPDATED: 13:17 04 May 2010

HEALTH chiefs who have battled for years for a £23 million government handout to invest in nursing care and tackle deprivation look set to lose it before they have even banked it. They fear the money, some which would have been spent in Littleport, will b

HEALTH chiefs who have battled for years for a £23 million government handout to invest in nursing care and tackle deprivation look set to lose it before they have even banked it.

They fear the money, some which would have been spent in Littleport, will be forfeited to bolster the funds of other struggling primary care trusts in the county.

The government has ordered all health trusts to be in the black ready for a massive shake-up of services across the region over the next few years which will include a merger of primary care trusts.

But Cambridge City and Cambridge South Primary Care Trusts are battling to turn around deficits totalling £21 million.

Now East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Primary Care Trust fears the cash it had been promised will be used to bail out these trusts when the merger takes place.

They were expecting to receive the money in April after fighting for years against a lower than average national capitation allowance for the district.

The cash was to be provided as a growth uplift for the area and there are fears that, without it, local services will suffer.

Local MPs Malcolm Moss and Jim Paice have sought assurances from the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority that the cash will be ring-fenced to protect it.

Mr Moss, who represents North East Cambridgeshire said: "We have argued for a hell of a long time for a fair settlement for the PCT because it has always had far less that other PCTs in Cambridgeshire as a whole. We feel we had got some fairness back into this equation and now it appears it is going to go. It means that places like ours are being totally ignored."

Mr Moss claims he received an assurance from strategic health authority, chief executive, Alan Burns, at a House of Commons meeting recently that the money would be protected for the next financial year.

East Cambridgeshire and Fenland PCT members were due to discuss the situation at their board meeting.

Chief executive, Audrey Bradford, said: "Our chairman and the PCT board have expressed serious concerns about the future of growth money identified for East Cambridgeshire and Fenland being used to address deficits in Cambridge.

"We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensuring that these growth monies are retained to improve and deliver local health services.

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