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40m cut to London public health budgets will make health inequalities worse

11 Aug 2015

RCN London has criticised plans to cut £40m from the region’s public health budget in January 2016.

RCN London has criticised plans to cut £40m from the region’s public health budget in January 2016.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in June that £200m across England would be cut this year from local authority run public health budgets.

A new consultation published by the Department of Health shows that more than a fifth of the national cutbacks are planned to be made in London, including:

  • £40m of cuts to public health budgets in London alone
  • Hackney (£2m), Lambeth (£1.9m), Newham (£1.9m), Westminster (£2m) and Tower Hamlets (£2.2m) among the biggest losers
  • 30% higher cuts per head for the average Londoner compared with England as a whole

The Government’s proposal for a blanket 6.2% reduction means that more unequal, heavily populated areas, particularly in inner London, are likely to lose the most per head.

The UK Faculty of Public Health has said that services affected by the cutbacks could include school nursing and other child health services, suicide prevention and domestic violence prevention, drug and alcohol, sexual health, weight loss support, smoking cessation services and wider mental health provision including befriending services for older people.

RCN London Regional Director Bernell Bussue said: “The Government keeps telling us they want to put prevention at the heart of health care but with another £40m cut from London’s public health budget they are storing up problems for the future. Already in London we are seeing school nursing posts lost and other preventative health schemes squeezed out. These cuts will make health inequalities worse and disproportionately hit harder to reach communities in inner city boroughs.

“It is no good claiming to protect the NHS budget but then making huge cuts to local authority services which are there to keep people well and out of hospital. The health service will in the long term end up paying for these savings many times over.”

The cuts the Government proposes to make for each London borough in January 2016 are available in this consultation released by the Department of Health.

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