Frontline services including school nursing, obesity prevention, and NHS health checks, are likely to suffer as a result of government plans for a £200m in-year cut to public health budgets, public health directors have warned.
In its official response to the proposal, the Association of Directors of Public Health expressed “deep concern” at the planned reduction and warned the cut could harm the health of the nation and lead to job losses.
As reported by LGC last month councils face a flat 6.2% cut to their 2015-16 public health budgets, under the Department of Health’s preferred means of applying the reduction.
According to the ADPH, many councils would find the savings a “major challenge”.
Its response added that the cuts would have a “detrimental impact on local authorities’ ability to improve the health and wellbeing of people within their communities, and to maintaining current local public health services, including those provided by local authorities, the NHS and voluntary sectors”.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services described the cuts as “daunting”, “counterproductive”, and “contradictory” to views of health secretary Jeremy Hunt, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, and Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie, as well as the objectives of the NHS Five Year Forward View.
“It is a short-term fix which will result in people’s needs going unnoticed or unmet, resulting in a need for more intensive and high-cost services,” the Adass response added.
Social work directors also though the savings would “violate” the new burdens doctrine as duties had not changed since local authorities inherited public health powers in April 2013.
In a separate response, London Councils said its members would be “hit hard” by the cuts as the capital stood to lose £40m collectively.
This would put efforts to integrate health services at risks, its response adds.
Clinical commissioning groups had told the body they were concerned about pooling resources with their local authority to jointly commission services when public health funding was ”vulnerable to cuts”.
“CCGs are therefore becoming reluctant to engage in joint commissioning, with the potential effect that care becomes split and fragmented and results in poorer patient outcomes,” London Councils said.