Comprehensive Spending Review: ‘rock solid’ evidence for saving NHS money ignored
Commenting on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement yesterday, Professor John Ashton, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "The full impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on public health will depend on the detail of what the cuts announced yesterday mean in practice, and we will be analysing it in detail before fully responding to it. It does not represent value for money for public health, particularly if a 'business rate model' were adopted to fund public health. This would lead to a public health postcode lottery, which would mean that children living in deprived areas (where the revenue from a business rate would be lower) would not get a fair start in life. Public health can be a powerful tool for reducing inequalities and should not be funded in such a way as to increase them.
"Our concern remains that the 6.2% cut to local government funding will lead to a significant downgrade of public health and any further cuts would compound this. This matters to ordinary people's health and wellbeing because funding for vital services will be cut. Many people might wrongly assume that services such as sexual health and family planning, drug treatment and health visitors are funded by the NHS, not their council; in England, local authorities now face tough choices about which services to cut.
"The evidence is rock solid that investing in public health saves the NHS money: for every £1 we spend on sexual health services, we save £11. Diabetes, heart disease and obesity all cost the NHS millions of pounds a year to treat, yet preventing them by investing in public health measures would ease pressure on the NHS. Our concerns are shared by the Association of Directors of Public Health, British Dental Association, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, London Councils, Local Government Association, SOLACE and UK Health Forum.
"We're also worried that those local authority areas with higher levels of deprivation are going to be hit the hardest through a flat-rate cut. If we want to achieve a healthier, more sustainable future for our children, our families and our communities, which the Government has committed to through its support of the Five Year Forward View, then we need greater investment in public health, not less."
Written: 26/11/2015 , last modified: 20/05/2016