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Public health grant cuts 'will have major impact on NHS programmes'

Reductions to council's public health grants are "cuts to the NHS in all but name", council leaders have said.

The Local Government Association warned there would be a "major impact" on many programmes for smokers, overweight people and drug users among others.

The comments follow a survey conducted by Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) on cuts to English Local Authority public health grants.

Almost four fifths (78%) of directors of public health who responded to the poll said that the cuts would "have a detrimental impact on health".

Many also said they would be reducing or abolishing services such as weight management or smoking cessation programmes.

Commenting on the poll, Izzi Seccombe, spokeswoman for community wellbeing at the Local Government Association, said: "Devolving public health to local government was a positive step, and councils have embraced these new responsibilities. However, as ADPH's analysis shows, the significant cuts to public health grants will have a major impact on the many prevention and early intervention services carried out by councils.

"These include combating the nation's obesity problem, helping people to stop smoking and tackling alcohol and drug abuse.

"Given that much of councils' public health budget goes to pay for NHS services like sexual health, public health nursing, drug and alcohol treatment and health checks, these are cuts to the NHS in all but name. And it will put further pressure on other NHS services.

"We need to move away from a focus on treating sickness to actively promoting health. Investing in prevention ultimately saves money for other parts of the public sector by reducing demand for hospital, health and social care services and ultimately improves the public's health."

The poll comes ahead of the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health annual public health conference in London today.

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