The rich get richer and the poor get poorer when it comes to funding GP practices, according to figures released to the Health Service Journal (HSJ) under freedom-of-information laws.
As a result, it claims, services in the poorest parts of England are being systematically and unfairly underfunded to the benefit of the richest.
The examples ranged from a practice in Brent, north London, which was receiving 55% below its entitlement, to one in west Berkshire which was overfunded by 39%.
Primary care trusts (PCTs) with the strongest tendency to underfund poor practices, according to the HSJ analysis, are Trafford, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Harrow, North Lancashire, Bolton, Kirklees, Hastings and Rother, Central and Eastern Cheshire, and East Riding of Yorkshire.
In Trafford, the GP practice in the richest area was overfunded by 13% while the poorest was underfunded by 21%.
Only six of the PCTs – Darlington, Halton and St Helens, Hertfordshire, Hillingdon, Oldham, and Wiltshire – distributed funds exactly according to the fair shares formula.
David Pink, Chief Executive of patient representative body, National Voices, told the magazine: "We can't have an NHS funding system that favours areas of the healthy and wealthy at the expense of areas of deprivation and chronic illness."