Local variations in NHS spending priorities

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While the 'postcode lottery' of accessing drugs, such as Herceptin, on the NHS attract media headlines, there has been growing awareness of more fundamental variations in spending by primary care trusts, the organisations responsible for purchasing the bulk of NHS care for people living in their catchment areas.

This briefing builds on this by analysing newly-available data collected by the Department of Health on the amount PCTs in England spend on specific disease areas.

The report reveals that there are differences in spending per head that only appear to be partially explained by the different needs of their local populations.

The briefing also asks questions about why PCTs reach different decisions about their spending priorities and whether spending variations have adverse effects on equity and efficiency.