Simplest way of solving the problem

I'm pleased Kelvin Fraser's letter last week shows we agree that local healthcare is badly underfunded. But I'm afraid his political opposition to the Government's new 'Payment By Results' health funding

I'm pleased Kelvin Fraser's letter last week shows we agree that local healthcare is badly underfunded. But I'm afraid his political opposition to the Government's new 'Payment By Results' health funding system means he's ignoring the fastest and simplest way of solving the problem. At the moment Weston hospital is given a block grant to provide healthcare for local people. But it's too small for the number of operations that actually get done. The result is a sizable financial shortfall over many years.The 'Payment By Results' system would give the hospital enough new money (£7.5m) to wipe out the deficit (£6.989m) immediately. The problem is that it won't take full effect for another two years, leaving the hospital in a hole until then.That's not just my view. The hospital management, Health Minister Patricia Hewitt and the Prime Minister all agree that Weston would get more cash under the new scheme. When I raised the issue at Prime Minister's Question Time, Tony Blair even agreed to consider introducing the scheme early, which would have meant the job cuts at Weston hospital could have been reversed. I regret that his eventual reply didn't promise anything.I'll keep trying to solve the problem. I just wish Mr Fraser would set his political agenda aside and work with me and everyone else on this important local issue. Weston and the villages need to be united about this, across the political divide, to stand any chance of success.John Penrose MP - Weston-super-Mare


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