Healthcare organisations call on George Osborne to reverse £200 million public health cut

RCN general secretary Janet Davies says cutting public health budgets will end up costing health service more in the long term.

The RCN has told chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne that his decision to cut £200 million from public health is ‘short-sighted’. 

The Department of Health (DH) has been asked to find the savings from the public health grants to local authorities in this financial year. 

The RCN has signed a joint letter to Mr Osborne warning that the cuts will increase preventable illness and could end up costing the NHS more than £1 billion. 

The letter, co-signed by the heads of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association among other organisations says: ‘This cut will have a direct impact on people and communities who rely on this funding, and it will have a direct impact on the NHS which will have to pick up the pieces.’

It calls on Mr Osborne to reverse the cut in the comprehensive spending review to be published on November 25. 

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘Cutting public health budgets is short-sighted and will end up costing the health service more in the long term.

‘More importantly, these cuts will have a devastating impact on people.

‘Well funded public health services keep people healthy and teach them to keep themselves healthy. The benefits, both financially and personally, far outweigh the costs.’

A Treasury spokesperson said: ‘We believe in the values of the NHS and the security that comes from a properly funded health service, which is why we will be increasing the NHS budget by £10 billion and have backed the NHS's own plan for the future. We have also made sure that the local authority public health grant in England can only be spent on public health activity.

'But difficult decisions need to be made across government to reduce the deficit and ensure the sustainability of our public services.

'Local authorities have already set an excellent example of how more can be done for less to provide the best value for the taxpayer and, like the rest of the public sector, they will have to continue to play their part in fixing the public finances, to ensure we deliver security for working people across the country.'

A consultation on the cuts closed at the end of August.  The DH plans to write to local authorities soon to set out how the savings will be made.  


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