RSPH has grave concerns about new analysis by The King’s Fund, showing that central government cuts are forcing councils around the country to drastically reduce spending on critical public health services.
The services impacted will include sexual health, alcohol misuse and smoking cessation – many of which have already endured year on year budget reductions.
Public health funding was cut by £200 million in 2015/16 and a further £600 million will be cut by 2020/21 forcing local authorities to be in the precarious position of picking and choosing which services they fund, and which they do not.
Economic investment in many public health services has been shown to save money. For example, every £1 spent on contraception within sexual health services saves £11 in healthcare costs.
It is clear many local authorities are under substantial pressure to save money, but cuts to public health budgets may have potentially disastrous implications for the long term future of our NHS.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “The scale of the cuts to public health budgets revealed by The King’s Fund’s new figures will be devastating for the health of the nation. Short-sighted cuts to sexual health, drug misuse and stop smoking services are a false economy – saving money in the short term but costing far more over coming decades, while jeopardising precious gains we have made to cut the number of smokers and efforts to tackle our growing crisis of drug-related deaths.
“When the NHS itself has called for a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ to save the service from collapse, it is reckless to be doing the exact opposite. The fallout from these cuts is already being felt in rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, and will hit our health service ever harder further down the line. Politicians have long operated on election-cycle funding, but this must change if we are to protect our NHS and the public’s health.”