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‘Self-defeating’ cuts to public health budget total £85m, research finds

‘Self-defeating’ cuts to public health budget total £85m, research finds

Council plans to cut £85m from public health have been revealed by analysis from The King’s Fund.

Central government plans to cut £85m from smoking cessation services, sexual health clinics and alcohol and drug abuse clinics have been revealed by analysis from The King’s Fund.

The analysis, based on data from the Department of Communities and Local Government, found that councils in England are planning to spend just £2.52bn on public health services in 2017/18.

This is compared with £2.6bn the year before, and more than 5% less than was spent in 2013/14 when inflation is accounted for.

Specific areas that are set to experience cuts include smoking cessation services which is facing a £16m cut on last year, and sexual health services which will see a £30m cut.

Funds that go towards tackling drug misuse in adults will also be cut by £22m according the analysis.

These spending decreases follow larger cuts to the public health budget of at least £600m by 2020/21, in addition to the £200m that was already cut in 2015/16.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, criticised the findings, calling them ‘self-defeating’ as the NHS tries to transform care.

He said: ‘The government's whole approach to reforming health care has been based on the promise of a radical upgrade in prevention and public health, yet all we have seen is cut after cut in this budget.

‘It is self-defeating to reduce public health spending while looking to transform care.’

David Buck, senior fellow in public health and inequalities at The King’s Fund, added that the cuts represent ‘the falsest of false economies’.

He said: ‘Reducing spending on public health is short-sighted at the best of times. But at a time when the rate of syphilis is at its highest level for 70 years, to cut spending on sexual health services is the falsest of false economies and is storing up problems for the future.

‘The government must reverse these cuts and ensure councils get adequate resources to fund vital public health services.’


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