Deep-seated health problems in Blackpool are only going to get worse if planned funding changes go ahead, the shadow health secretary has warned.
Currently, the funding formula for health services takes into account the deprivation of an area but government changes would scrap that for an age-based model.
Speaking after his appearance at the Labour North West conference in Blackpool on Saturday, Andy Burnham warned the resort would lose out under the proposed scheme.
He said: “There are real entrenched health challenges in Blackpool, I know that.
“But if we were to lose millions of pounds for the likes of Blackpool, I would have real fears for the health service here.”
Health experts have warned the changes could widen the north-south divide in terms of health care.
Prof Clare Bambra and Dr Alison Copeland, from Durham University, wrote in a letter to the British Medical Journal last month: “Although these changes are not on the scale that a purely ‘age only’ allocation formula would produce, they are still sufficient to undermine the principle of equal opportunity of access for equal need.
“They are also potentially a first step towards an age only allocation, and they could widen the north-south health divide by reducing NHS services in the north.”
Mr Burnham added: “Labour is going to lead a campaign to stop that huge shift of resources from north to south
“Funding changes that change the weighting away from deprivation and towards age would mean Blackpool loses out.
“I recognise that Blackpool has some deep-seated challenges and needs the best that health care can offer.”
But he also praised the resort’s long history of hosting political conferences and said he would love to see a national event return to the area.
He added: “This is the third year running we have been here for our regional conference. I think there is a standard for modern conferences and Blackpool needs to rise to that standard but I would love to see it.”
The two-day conference for North West delegates was held at the Imperial Hotel, on North Promenade.