David Ruffley - MP for Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market

What The Local Papers Say About David

Fight and fight again over debt by Moreton Hall MP David Ruffley

Bury Free Press,22 May 2006

My online survey for Suffolk residents about the Chancellor's Budget asked: "If a Government increased public spending, which area do you think needs it most?"

A third of respondents said: "The NHS."

No surprises there. Our Suffolk health service and its hard working staff are carrying debts that are not of their making.

Many of you living on Moreton Hall use the West Suffolk Hospital and our local GPs.

My concern is the same as yours. We need to sort out the financial mess so that our nurses, support staff, doctors and all those in the caring professions, can concentrate on treating those who most need their help.

I have just had another meeting with the hospital's chief executive, Chris Bown.

It is clear from that meeting that our local hospital faces another tough year.

The West Suffolk Hospital has made 6million savings over the past 12 months but needs to find a similar amount to tackle the ongoing deficit.

They are making progress but it is going to be difficult because there is still the underlying problem of the funding formula massively discriminating against the people of Suffolk.

If we received the national funding average, we would have less of a problem.

For 2006-07, the Government is planning to spend a national average of 1,274 per head on health. West Suffolk PCT will only receive 1,051 per head that means that Moreton Hall residents will receive 223 per head less than the national average!

The Government has changed the funding formula for the NHS four times since 2001 and on each occasion, they have increased the emphasis on social deprivation and decreased the emphasis on age and cost of delivery in semi rural areas like Bury.

The areas of England that primarily benefit from the changes to the funding formula are urban areas and cities in the North of England.

In 2005/06, Suffolk's funding was in the bottom 10th of the country 277th out of 304.

And let's remind ourselves of the challenge our NHS front line carers and clinicians in Suffolk will face this year.

There is a lot happening which will be out of their control.

First, they are dependent on the settlement they will this month receive from the West Suffolk PCT.

Second, if London-based ministers start making unreasonable demands over early repayment of debt, our hospital will have to make even greater cuts to find savings.

Third, the hospital will get less from central government funding after 2008, which could make the debt situation insoluble.

My solution? Fight, fight and fight again in Westminster to get health ministers to write off our hospital's debt.

Then our local NHS staff can get on with the job they do with such dedication looking after the people of Moreton Hall.