RSPH has expressed grave concerns about new analysis by the Labour party showing government cuts are forcing 85% of councils around the country to drastically reduce their spending on critical public health services this year.
Among the worst hit services are sexual health which is being cut by 95 councils and losing £17.6m, and substance misuse which is being cut by 114 councils with a loss of £34m. Vital public health budgets aimed specifically at children will also be cut by a drastic total of £25.9m year on year.
Councils are having to make £800m of public health cuts over 6 years, leaving local authorities yet again in the difficult position of picking and choosing which services they fund, and which they do not.
Improvements in life expectancy have stalled, drug related deaths in England and Wales have hit an all-time high, rates of smoking among pregnant women have risen for the first time on record and childhood obesity rates have hit a record high.
Preventative economic investment in 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.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH, said: "This analysis shows the considerable scale and breadth of cuts to services which improve and protect the public’s health. In 2014, Simon Stevens called for “a radical upgrade in prevention”, but what we are facing is a record downgrade in funding which is already having dire consequences for the NHS.
"We believe these are incredibly short-sighted cuts and will yet again have a devastating impact on the longer term health of our nation. Cuts to sexual health, stop smoking services and drug misuse will save money in the short term, however they will cost far more over coming decades. We are particularly concerned at cuts to services supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people because we know that early intervention is so important."