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Government warned over health cuts

Published 03/07/2015

Health care leaders have warned about the impact of cuts in a letter to The Times
Health care leaders have warned about the impact of cuts in a letter to The Times

The Government's planned £200 million cuts to public health budgets will harm the nation's health, a number of leading charities and organisations have warned.

In a letter to The Times, charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation said the cuts would also hamper attempts to reduce cost pressures in the long-term.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the move last month, which will see money slashed from council budgets, leading to concerns it will affect obesity prevention and weight loss schemes as well as alcohol misuse programmes.

Other services funded by local authorities' public health budgets include school nursing, screening programmes, drug and substance misuse programmes and sexual health schemes.

The letter, which has also been signed by the Royal Society for Public Health, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Midwives, calls for the Government to recognise that the cuts would be "deeply counter-productive to the health of our nation".

The letter reads: "We believe the proposed £200m of cuts to public health budgets would be harmful both to the health of the population in England and to long-term efforts to reduce cost pressures.

"Public health services target some of the most significant challenges of our time, such as smoking, alcohol misuse, obesity and inactivity.

"For the NHS and social care to cope with challenges posed by growing demand and limited resources, there needs to be an increased emphasis on preventing ill-health.

"NHS England's Five Year Forward View, which has been fully adopted by the Government, recognised this reality. It made prevention its cornerstone, establishing a consensus around which real progress could be made.

"As the Department of Health launches this consultation, we urge Government to take note of the weight of evidence and recognise that cuts to public health services would be deeply counter-productive to the health of our nation."

The letter has been signed by:

Professor Karen Middleton, c hief executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Shirley Cramer, c hief executive, Royal Society for Public Health

Professor John R Ashton, p resident, Faculty of Public Health

Professor Cathy Warwick, c hief executive, Royal College of Midwives

Tom Wright, c hief executive, Age UK

Kay Boycott, c hief executive, Asthma UK

Delyth Morgan, c hief executive, Breast Cancer Now

Simon Gillespie, c hief executive, British Heart Foundation

Dr Penny Woods, c hief executive, British Lung Foundation

Barbara Young, c hief executive, Diabetes UK

Lynda Thomas, c hief executive, Macmillan Cancer Support

Arlene Wilkie, c hief executive, The Neurological Alliance

Mark Winstanley, c hief executive, Rethink Mental Illness

Jon Barrick, c hief executive, The Stroke Association

Professor Russell Viner, o fficer for health promotion, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Dr Liam O'Toole, c hief executive, Arthritis Research UK

Deborah Arnott, c hief executive, Action on Smoking & Health

Jackie Ballard, c hief executive, Alcohol Concern

Ben Reynolds, a cting coordinator, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Paul Farmer, c hief executive, Mind

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