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NHS “postcode lottery” report claim

The “postcode lottery” for treatment of conditions such as cancer and heart disease has not improved over the past three years, according the the King’s Fund health charity.

Its chief economist, Professor John Appleby, says there still remains a huge difference in how much primary care trusts (PCTs) spend.

Some of this could be down to decisions by individual doctors about who to treat while some hospitals may not being as efficient as others.

But Professor Appleby said more research was needed over the “consistency of the decisions PCTs make about how much they spend on different diseases.”

His study into spending in 2006/07 took into account the different health needs of local populations. But wide variations in spend still remain

For example, Knowsley PCT spent more than twice as much as Ealing PCT on cancer (GBP 118 per head compared with GBP 47). Overall, the proportion spent on the disease ranged from 3.6% to more than 9% of PCTs’ budgets.

The data showed that the government’s three clinical priorities of mental health, coronary heart disease and cancer have continued to consume the largest shares of PCT spending – 12%, 9% and just over 6% respectively.

Copyright PA Business 2008

King’s Fund