The College has warned that reducing spending on services to keep people well and out of hospital is a false economy and risks worsening the pressure on the NHS this winter.
In June the Chancellor announced that £200m – 6.2% of funding – would be stripped from local authority public health grants in the current financial year.
Nine local authorities in the East Midlands will receive £15.7m less between them than they were originally allocated if the Department of Health’s preferred option of cutting every council’s grant by 6.2% goes ahead.
'Protect public health'
The RCN has signed a joint letter to the Chancellor from the Academy of Royal Colleges calling for public health spending to be protected in the Comprehensive Spending Review announcement on 25 November.
The letter says that "reversing the proposed cuts will relieve pressure on our overburdened NHS, tackle inequalities and improve people’s health and wellbeing."
The letter also highlights analysis by the Faculty of Public Health suggesting the knock-on cost to the NHS nationally could exceed £1bn.
Services affected by the cutbacks could include school nursing and other child health services, suicide prevention, drug and alcohol, sexual health, healthy eating and stop-smoking services.
The RCN represents more than 27,000 nurses and health care assistants in the East Midlands, including those delivering public health services.
'Nurses understand the value of ill health prevention'
Dr Sheila Marriott, Director of the RCN in the East Midlands, said: "Nurses understand the value of ill health prevention and early intervention in improving outcomes for patients and saving the NHS money.
"Cutting spending on public health services commissioned by local councils will increase potentially avoidable demand for hospital services that are ultimately more expensive for the NHS to provide.
"It’s a false economy, bad news for patients and bad news for taxpayers."
The decision to cut £200m in year from local authority public health budgets was announced by the Chancellor on 4 June. On 31 July the Department of Health launched a consultation asking how the savings should be made.