William Eichler 03 February 2016

Public health under threat from cuts, survey finds

Cuts to health grants will have a detrimental impact on public health, according to the majority of directors of public health (DsPH).

A new survey, carried out by the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), revealed that 78% of DsPH believe that dramatic cuts to English local authority public health grants will have a damaging effect on public health.

It also found that 75% of respondents believe funding reductions, announced in last November’s Spending Review, will lead to a rise in health inequalities, particularly within the context of wider local authority cuts and NHS financial difficulties.

One of the results of the cuts will be, according to the DsPH who took part in the survey, the decommissioning of non-statutory provision such as weight management, mental health support and smoking cessation.

Responding to the ADPH’s survey, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) community wellbeing spokesperson, said: ‘Devolving public health to local government was a positive step, and councils have embraced these new responsibilities. However, as ADPH's analysis shows, the significant cuts to public health grants will have a major impact on the many prevention and early intervention services carried out by councils.’

Cllr Seccombe also warned of the negative impact on the NHS.

‘Given that much of councils' public health budget goes to pay for NHS services like sexual health, public health nursing, drug and alcohol treatment and health checks, these are cuts to the NHS in all but name. And it will put further pressure on other NHS services.’

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