NEW research on health care spending has fuelled claims of a 'postcode lottery' when it comes to receiving treatment.
Health think tank The King's Fund looked at spending by 303 primary care trusts (PCTs) in three categories; spending per head on cancer and tumours; mental health; and circulatory problems.
The research found that Central Cheshire PCT, which covers Mid Cheshire, spends most on circulatory problems (£137 per head) followed by mental health (£114) and cancer (£67).
Though spending on circulatory problems is strong compared to the county's other PCTs, Cheshire West and Warrington are £109 and £106 respectively, CCPCT is £36 behind Wyre PCT, the top spender at £173.
The other figures compare even more unfavourably. Regards cancer care, CCPCT spends far less than he best performing trusts - Daventry & South Northants PCT (£132 per head) and Guildford & Waverley (£126 per head).
Likewise, mental health spending by the two top performing trusts - Derbyshire Dales & South Derbyshire PCT (£265 per head) and Islington (£259 per head) - are more than double being spent in Mid Cheshire.
Eddisbury MP and Shadow Health Minister Stephen O'Brien claims the CCPCT is 'lagging' behind the top performers and shows a postcode lottery in action. He said: 'The research has revealed stark differences in the way money is allocated to key diseases in PCT areas. I feel the Government does have to take account of the fact that the wide variation does mean, whether they deny it or not, that there is a postcode lottery.
'I am particularly concerned about the spending in Cheshire on treatment for cancer care and mental illnesses, and unfortunately the figures for heart dis-ease treatment are also disappointing.
'Some variations in spending and priority are understandable if those variations reflect patient need. But differences in socio-economic make-up and health needs by population cannot explain this massive variation in spending in three vital areas of healthcare services.
'I will be writing to the CCPCT to ask why there is such a variation in spending on these three vital services and what steps will be taken to bring us into line with the best performing trusts in the country.'
CCPCT chief executive Mike Pyrah said: 'I'm aware that our expenditure on mental health is low and that some services could do with investment but I don't agree regards the other two.
'It certainly is the case that different areas are going to spend different amounts of money on different diseases. The real issue is not what you spend, it's the service you get and I'm not sure there is an absolute correlation between those spending the most money and those having the best services.'