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Delay to Public Health Grant will cause ‘avoidable and unacceptable’ harm

With just one month to go before the new financial year, over 30 leaders of public health, NHS bodies and health charities are calling on the Government to urgently publish next year’s public health grant allocation.

The coalition, led by the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association (LGA), the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH),  are also urging ministers to increase investment in public health and prevention – a strategy which although known to have a long-term benefits to individuals, communities, the NHS and wider economy, has been repeatedly overlooked in recent years.

In the joint statement, leaders across the sector have said:

The Government’s delay in publishing the Public Health Grant allocation for 2023/24 is putting public health services at risk and adding unnecessary strain on an already pressured system.

In addition to not yet knowing what the public health budget will look like for the coming year, we are extremely concerned that the delay will be exacerbated by either only a small increase or another flat cash settlement.

Despite several important Government strategies being sidelined or delayed, including the health disparities and gambling reform white papers and Khan review, there have been a series of promising announcements giving a commitment to public health initiatives. However, these initiatives are not being adequately – or consistently – funded.

Instead, funding has been cut in real terms by almost a quarter since 2015. While the current investment is of course welcomed, anything less than inflation is in effect a cut and, as a result, it is impossible for providers to keep up, either with policy ambitions or the growing demand on these vital public health services. We simply cannot keep delivering more for less.

Without investing in evidence-based measures that are proven to prevent and reduce physical and mental ill health, demand on the NHS will continue to rise, sickness in the workforce will continue to increase and the economy will continue to suffer as a result.

Read the full statement here.

Published 01 March 2023

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