In a speech last month, Andrew Lansley, health secretary, promised that when the new clinical commissioning groups were up and running, areas with many old people will no longer be penalized by the way the NHS allocates resources.
Currently, funds are allocated to primary care trusts by a complex formula that takes into account age, deprivation, health need and the local cost of providing care.
Clare Bambra of the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham University warned that focusing only on age and severing the link with deprivation and health need "will lead to a considerable shift of healthcare funding away from the neediest, poorer areas of the north and the inner cities towards the least needy, most affluent, and most elderly areas of the south."
"It also means more money for areas voting Conservative and less for those voting Labor," she said in a statement.
Bambra recalculated the 2011-2012 NHS resource allocation and found that, if an age-only allocation approach had been taken, there would have been a 14.9 percent loss of resources in the poorer northeast region of London and a 12 percent loss in the northwest region. The more affluent southeast coast and south central areas would get increases of 12.6 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively.
The findings were published in a letter to the British Medical Journal.