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North Somerset Times: MP secures better health care funding

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North Somerset has been awarded more Government funding for healthcare, which Weston’s MP says will stop the area being ‘overshadowed’ by Bristol.

According to MP John Penrose, North Somerset should receive more than £350million a year from the Department of Health (DoH). But in recent years it has only received £340million – a 4.1 per cent gap of £10million.

Mr Penrose has fought for fairer funding since he became MP in 2005 and the Mercury teamed up with him in 2014 for its own fairer funding campaign.

Mr Penrose said it had been a long battle to secure North Somerset appropriate financial support.

He added: “I started demanding answers from Tony Blair when he was still Prime Minister, so it is a sweet moment now we have finally got it done.”

North Somerset will now receive £352.7million of its £353.7million funding target for 2016/17.

The money will be divided between North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the primary medical service and specialised care, which deals with hospitals, GP surgeries and district nurses.

The CCG’s chief clinical officer, Dr Mary Backhouse, said: “Although we are working to manage a very challenging financial situation and a growing demand, it is good news for North Somerset that it has had additional resources and it has invested these in NHS services.”

The DoH divides up its annual budget – estimated at about £110billion – across the NHS, local authorities and area teams based on population, to be distributed to CCGs and other clinical groups.

Mr Penrose said there was a serious problem with the healthcare funding when he was elected.

He added: “Bristol grabbed a lot of the available money, as it is where all the teaching hospitals are and Weston had been overshadowed and was looked at as a poor relation.”

Although this is step in the right direction, there are still problems to address.

Mr Penrose said: “Like the rest of the NHS, Weston’s health professionals are facing rising demands from all of us, so budgets are stretched.

“We need to create a strategic plan for health services, hospitals and GPs to work constructively together with Bristol so the health system is not under pressure.”

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