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Hancock hints at more local health cash

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Local public health and general practitioner services will get a share of the extra £20bn to be allocated to the National Health Service, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has indicated.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, Mr Hancock said the NHS had been too focussed on hospitals with insufficient attention paid to primary and community care.

He said: “The plan we are producing for the long term of the NHS comes alongside the £20bn extra confirmed in the Budget and I strongly agree there should be a shift of resources to primary care and community care - GPs and health visitors and the like - than spend ever more in acute hospitals.”

Mr Hancock went on: “More will go on long-term health, not the immediate concerns of the NHS. If you are trying to get a change from hospitals into prevention the only time you can do that is when the budget is going up, so I want to see the proportion spent on GPs and in the community going up out of the £20bn.”

The charity Health Foundation last month published research which showed there had been a £700m real terms cut in publich health grant funding between 2014-15 and 2019-20.

Mr Hancock said Public Health England’s funding had not been changed by the Budget and would be decided in next spending review.

The government’s green paper on prevention, published today, said: “We must now move beyond aspiration to ensure that clear practical steps are taken to create health and social care services that have prevention, not cure, at their heart.”

It said the plan to help prevent problems occuring in the first place will be delivered by “realising local authorities’ potential as leaders in local health improvement. Local authorities have a deep understanding of their communities, and the government recognises their achievements in a challenging context.”

Meanwhile, the health and social care secretary suggested he would consider closing secure units for people with learning difficulties, as called for today in the Times by Sir Steve Bubb, who conducted a review into the Winterbourne View scandal of abuse of patients.

Sir Steve said in a piece headed ‘all of these institutions should close’ that “individuals are being subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment. These are people with learning disabilities or autism who are being held in institutions run by the state or private companies.”

Mr Hancock said: “I will look carefully [at it]. I’ve been really struck by concerns in this area about keeping people in secure hospitals for very long periods of time and some stories are harrowing.

“They’ve been treated like criminals rather than people who need compassion and care. We have a target to reduce by one third secure hospitals, and I want to go much further.”

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