Postcode Lottery in UK Determines Health of Counties

The Department of Health has put out the second atlas of maps showing the geographical distribution of NHS money across the country. This tool tells us in great detail exactly what we have all known all along. It is a collection of 71 maps illustrating where in the English regions money is spent on medical services and the health results for each Primary Care Trust, PCT in England. It is a new edition of the original Atlas project began in 2010.

Charities point out that the new Atlas still shows that there are shameful variations in care quality and quantity across the National Health Service. The department of Health claim the mapping project will help PCTs to improve both the quality and equity of health care. Just two examples in this years’ Atlas are variations in prescribing rates for anti-dementia drugs that are different by up to a multiple of 25 times and a 3.8 factor variation in the numbers of patients having amputations of their lower limbs.

Diabetes UK respond to such figures with outrage saying: ‘It is appalling that even after seeing similar results in last year’s report, people with diabetes are still not receiving the basic level of care they need. This must change.’

The government intentions are honorable, as the Health Minister says:

‘The Atlas of Variation lets us look at how the local NHS is meeting the clinical needs of their local population. This will help commissioners to identify unjustified variations and drive up standards so patients are receiving consistently high quality care throughout the NHS.”

So things must change and everybody wants them to change, but how can they? The UK is re-entering recession, unemployment is rising, tax revenues are declining, austerity measures are being imposed on every PCT and the Atlas of Variation simply reflects the fundamental inequality of income distribution that has always existed in society. There is no more money for the NHS.

When the government prints more money it is swallowed up in the black hole of financial sector debts. People with lots of money do not use the NHS. Producing the Atlas of Variation costs a lot of money and is analogous to your doctor writing a prescription for an expensive course of medicine and extolling the dying penniless patient to change his lifestyle. The patient cries out in an agony of frustration and outrage but the doctor just keeps writing the useless prescriptions and taking the salary.

[box]Check out the Atlas of Variation, it is all online, to see if you are a winner or a loser in the postcode lottery of the NHS. It won’t improve the availability or the quality of healthcare in your local area but ‘transparency’ is good for us all.[/box]

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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