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FPH welcomes House of Lords’ call for public health funding cuts to be reversed

A major House of Lords inquiry report, published today, has warned that a “culture of short-termism” has fuelled a crisis in the NHS and led the adult social care system to “the brink of collapse”.

It calls for the reversal of recent “short-sighted and counter-productive” cuts in public health funding that are likely to lead to a greater burden of disease and strain on services – echoing the Faculty of Public Health's (FPH’s) evidence to the inquiry.

The report by the Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS recommends a new, long-term, political consensus on the future of health and social care.

Furthermore, the report cautions that “we can no longer defer action on prevention” in view of the multiple pressures facing the health and social care system.

FPH also strongly welcomes the recommendation that ring-fenced national and local public health budgets should be maintained for at least 10 years, so local authorities can implement sustainable, effective public health measures.

With an ageing population, medical advances and increased social care pressure, the financial sustainability of the NHS has worsened considerably – a “downward spiral” that the report makes clear “cannot continue”. The NHS must shift from rhetoric to reality, and make real progress on its “radical upgrade in prevention”.

While FPH welcomed recent, modest additional social care funding, it supports the finding that this is insufficient to make up for years of chronic underfunding. Long- and short-term service transformation and national funding increases are needed to “stem the flow of providers leaving adult social care, meet rising need and help alleviate the crisis in NHS hospitals”.

FPH strongly welcomes the recommendation that a tax funded, free-at-the-point-of-use, NHS provides the most sustainable and efficient health service – one of FPH’s manifesto ambitions – and, furthermore, that this funding should be increased in line with GDP, thus resisting growing financial pressures.

The report’s finding of an absence of a comprehensive national long-term strategy to secure an appropriately skilled, well trained and committed workforce is also of great concern. Cuts in public health specialists in some councils have meant loss of experts able to ensure efficient use of NHS resources by promoting the most effective and efficient treatments and care.

FPH further welcomes the inquiry’s recognition of the impact of the obesity crisis, and its call for a nationwide obesity campaign. Stronger action is need to address the impact of junk food marketing aimed squarely at our children. The Government’s recent childhood obesity strategy was thus a missed opportunity to protect thousands of children and young people from the misery of life-long diseases such as diabetes. Treatment of type 2 diabetes alone consumes around £10 billion of scarce NHS resources.

Written: 05/04/2017 , last modified: 05/04/2017

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