Vital frontline health services are at risk due to a lack of certainty around councils’ public health funding, local authority leaders have warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged the Government to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations which councils will receive from April.
The LGA warned that time was ‘running out’ for councils to make critical decisions on renewing contracts for public health services, including for health visiting, sexual and reproductive health, and suicide prevention.
Local authority health services are also under increased pressure because of Omicron, the LGA added.
‘Demand for vital treatment for drug and alcohol misuse, obesity, mental health and children’s health is rising and at risk of not being met, while we are still grappling with the impact of the Omicron surge,’ said Cllr David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board.
‘The unprecedented mental and physical health toll of the pandemic will mean we could be seeing many more people coming forward for support, in addition to an existing backlog which has built up over the last two years.
‘It is wrong that we are still in the dark about how much there is to spend on this essential treatment and support, which will better protect our population from future pandemics.
‘The Government should act now and publish councils’ public health grant without further delay, so that we can get on with planning ahead for an anticipated post-COVID surge in requests for help.’
In response to the LGA’s call, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We understand local authorities need certainty to plan for the vital public health services they provide. Public Health Grant allocations for 2022/23 will be confirmed shortly.’