The last Labour Government spent less, per person, on the NHS in the South West than it did in the rest of England, and that gap only grew in the last years the party was in power. That’s according to the latest figures released to me by the Department of Health under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the 2007/08 financial year, NHS spending across England as a whole totalled £1,428 per person, rising to £1,499 the following financial year, and eventually to £1,650 in the last financial year of the Labour Government (2009/10). In those same years, however, spending in the South West, per person, was £1,371, £1,428, and £1,551.
The ‘health spending gap’ therefore between the two figures in each year was £57, then £71, and finally £99 – growing every year.
So, by their last year in power, Labour was spending just shy of £100 per person less in the South West than was being spent on average across the whole of the country. A quick check online tells me that the population of our region is over 4.9 million, so the total gap in spending was (4.9m x £99) approaching £500m, compared to what it should have been if we were funded at the same level as England as a whole.
Even if you take Plymouth in isolation there was a gap. Take that last year Labour was in charge, per person NHS spending in the city was £1,624 – that’s £26 per person less than England as a whole. I don’t believe that the health needs of Plymouth are less than the average health needs of this country as a whole.
This tells me something that is becoming clearer and clearer to me all the time: we need to shout louder as a city and as a region. We need to demand our fair share.