AUDIT Commission figures for 1996/7 show that Bury and Rochdale Health Authority provides a cost-effective service compared with other similar bodies.

Although the Bury and Rochdale authority is above average in terms of the number of patients admitted, it is able to treat them at a below-average cost.

This efficiency enables Bury and Rochdale to keep a lid on cash spent on treating inpatients.

So, when compared with other similar health care providers, the local authority spends only an average amount of money on treatment per head of population.

The Audit Commission report profiles Bury and Rochdale against a 'cluster' of 17 other manufacturing areas with primary industries - including Barnsley, Liverpool and Sunderland - on a like-for-like basis.

The report also concluded that Bury and Rochdale Health Authority:

Spends an average amount per head of population on administration (£16).

Has the lowest spend on community health services.

Has below average spend on mental health.

Has below average spend on practice nurses per head of population.

Has an average number of GPs per head of population, an above average number of dentists and opticians and a below average number of pharmacies.

Has a GP practice list inflation which is higher than average as is the percentage number of single-handed GPs.

Bury and Rochdale has the highest number of planned referrals in the cluster, that is to say the highest number of people instructed by their GP to make a hospital appointment.

Richard Popplewell, chief executive of Bury and Rochdale Health Authority, confirmed that the Audit Commission report is used to influence thinking in terms of future spending.

He said: "The figures are useful for reference and analysis to inform decisions around the use of resources for next year and the year after.

"This sort of information is stored in our minds and provides context and background. It is part and parcel of the information on which we base future decisions."

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