Chancellor urged to rethink public health cuts

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A coalition of health, care and public service organisations – including the NHS Confederation – has urged the Chancellor to reverse a proposed £200m cut to the public health grant, warning that it will have a direct impact on those who rely on the funding, and on the NHS which will have to “pick up the pieces.”

In a letter to George Osborne on 22 October, the organisations said the planned moved was a "false economy" and called on the Chancellor to abandon the plans in the upcoming Spending Review. 

They also sought a "clear commitment" that no further cuts to public health budgets will be made in future years. 

Signed by organisations including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Faculty of Public Health and Local Government Association, the letter comes a month ahead of the Spending Review. Expected on 25 November, the Spending Review will reveal the government's decisions on funding for the rest of this Parliament.


Voicing concerns over the cuts announced in June 2015, the organisations cited analysis suggesting an eventual knock-on cost to the NHS in excess of £1bn.

"On top of this, many of the services delivered through the public health spend via local authorities fund NHS clinical care. Cutting this funding reduces NHS revenues, so it is misleading to suggest that the NHS budget is being ringfenced," the letter said.

"By reversing the proposed cuts to the public health grant, and investing in prevention and public health in the Spending Review, the government should be able to reduce the wider budget deficit, which you have suggested is the aim of the proposed cuts.

"Reversing [them] will relieve pressure on our overburdened NHS, tackle inequalities and improve people's health and wellbeing."

Rob Webster, the head of the NHS Confederation, said: “There is an unprecedented consensus that we can only address the problems facing the NHS if we invest in the future of our nation’s health by helping people to stay well."


Reversing cuts to the public health grant forms one of ten asks of the Treasury made in the NHS Confederation's Spending Review representation

The submission called for certainty and clarity on health and care funding, pressing the case for upfront investment and protection for both social services and public health.

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