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RCN Eastern call for cuts to local authority public health budgets to be dropped

3 Nov 2015

The Royal College of Nursing in the Eastern region is calling for cuts to local authority public health budgets to be dropped when Chancellor George Osborne announces the Comprehensive Spending Review this month.

In June the Chancellor announced that £200m would be taken from local authorities in January 2016.

The proposals mean huge sums being taken from public health budgets in our region. Based on a 6.2 per cent reduction across all councils, this represents a £3.7m cut in Essex, £2.8m in Hertfordshire, £2.3m in Norfolk, £1.9m in Suffolk and £1.6m in Cambridgeshire.

The cuts are particularly difficult for our region as rural areas already face significant challenges. The RCN is aware of growing concern about the prevalence of health inequalities in rural communities, with current funding arrangements already unfairly affecting these areas. Further investigations are needed to understand the health needs of rural communities so those living in these areas are properly cared for.

Nurses are now calling for the planned public health cuts to be dropped altogether across the UK after it emerged the total bill to the NHS could be over £1bn.

The RCN has signed a joint letter to the Chancellor from the Academy of Royal Colleges calling for the measure to be dropped in the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25th 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 which says the knock-on cost to the NHS could be in excess of £1bn.

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 Eastern Region Director Karen Webb said: “It is no good for the Government to say they are protecting the budget for the NHS but then to make huge cuts to council-run health services which are there to keep people well and out of hospital. The NHS will end up paying for these saving many times over.

“These plans will also disproportionately hit poorer communities, particularly in rural areas where funding arrangements already unfairly affect the population. Health inequalities will be made worse.

“If the Government really wants to put prevention at the heart of health care then the Chancellor should think again and withdraw these damaging proposals when he announces the spending review.”

The cuts the Government proposes to make for each local authority in the Eastern region in January 2016 are as follows:

Local authorities 

 Indicative Cash Reduction for 2015/16


Bedford  535
Cambridgeshire   1,613
Central Bedfordshire  747
Essex   3,669
Hertfordshire   2,842
Luton   955
Norfolk  2,324
Peterborough  673
Southend on Sea   584
Suffolk  1,857 
Thurrock 656 

Notes to Editors:

  •  The RCN has signed a joint letter organised by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges calling for public health cuts to be dropped from the Spending Review on 25 November.
  •  The decision to cut £200m in year from local authority public health budgets was announced by the Chancellor on 4 June and on 31 July the Department of Health announced a consultation  on how the savings would be made:
  •  The Royal College of Nursing represents more than 36,000 nurses across the Eastern region, covering Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
  •  To speak to an Eastern region representative, please call Sue Wilton on 01284 717 736. Email or

Page last updated - 15/06/2018