In the irony of resource allocation, apparent 'winners' can be seen in a different perspective to be 'losers'. The News Focus, 'Last seen heading north', (19 November) may deserve to be renamed 'advantage stays in the south'.

It is true that there has been a marginal shift in resources to the north. However, as shown by the cited example of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, another way of defining 'winner' or 'loser' is actual distance from target rather than increase in allocation. The two possible definitions - real increase in allocation, and distance from target - are approximately inversely related because of the 'pace of change' formula. Thus winners on one definition will usually be losers on the other and vice versa.

One could argue it is this second definition which is more fundamental. However large a cash increase for a health authority, if it's still under target then it's losing some of its fair share, and however small an increase, if an HA is still over target it's getting too much.

A table showing this second definition of winners and losers, with amounts of cash involved, would be interesting.

John Hacking

Research officer

North West Health Research Unit

Manchester