Mike Yuille 27 November 2018

Public health progress put at risk by cuts

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The Government must restore councils’ public health grants because of their important role in the urgent task of improving public health, according to a report from leading health think tank, The King’s Fund.

Its report warns that, without ‘radical change’, progress in improving the nation’s health could ‘grind to a halt’.

The report calls on the Government to use the 2019 Spending Review to reverse its cuts to public health grants.

Currently, councils’ spending per head on public health services is expected to fall by almost a quarter in real terms between 2014/15 and 2019/20. 

The King’s Fund, an independent charity focused on improving health and care in England, argues that the steady growth in lifespan enjoyed by increasingly healthy UK citizens in recent decades can no longer be taken for granted. Evidence for this includes the stalling of progress made against a number of key measures – including life expectancy, infant mortality, adult obesity, and disease survival rates.

It also warns that a ‘yawning gap in health outcomes between rich and poor areas is widening again’. As an example, it says that a woman in Wokingham can now expect to enjoy nearly 17 years more years of healthy life than a woman in Manchester.

David Buck, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said: ‘After a century of improving health, progress on key outcomes are grinding to a halt. Life expectancy is stalling, our health outcomes are mediocre compared with similar countries and health inequalities are widening. A new vision for the population’s health is needed.’

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