Cuts a false economy, says Health Select Committee report
The House of Commons Health Committee, chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston, has today (1 September) published a report into the funding, delivery and structure of public health post 2013.
Commenting on the report's recommendations, Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), said: "This welcome report is well-timed. It demonstrates the false economy of cutting local authority public health budgets because of the added pressures this puts on NHS resources. Councils in England have worked extremely hard for many years to maintain the services they offer their communities with reduced funding. Nevertheless, sexual health services, drug treatment clinics and other health services funded by councils have been hit hard by these cuts.
"FPH fully supports the call for a Cabinet Office minister for embedding health across all areas of government policy. This new post would be a welcome sign that the government is matching its rhetoric on reducing health inequalities with practical action that will protect and improve everyone's health. There are a range of measures that are needed within local authorities to ensure public health expertise is used effectively and independently, including making sure public health practitioners have access to the data – or vital tools – they need for their work.
"We recognise the concerns expressed by the committee on health protection arrangements as these effect local government and the NHS. There is much detailed consideration for the protection of the public: we will be happy to support further work in this area. We also need the law to change so that public health expertise is embedded at board level in clinical commissioning groups and NHS England; unless we make the best use of the skills of health service public health specialists, we will not receive the best value for money from NHS services.
"We also welcome the recognition within the evidence heard by the committee that public health professionals play a vital role in supporting and championing the prevention agenda of the NHS. The committee also heard of their crucial work supporting health and social care at a local level to provide the most effective and efficient services to meet the greatest need for the greatest possible number of individuals, for a given limited resource. We urge the government, as part of the performance management of English councils' public health function, to work with us to clarify and mandate clearly defined resources to work alongside local NHS commissioners of direct healthcare services to achieve that aim."
Written: 01/09/2016 , last modified: 27/10/2016