Ruth Cadbury condemns cut to public health funding in Hounslow

Images above: Ruth Cadbury MP; Hounslow House, headquarters of LB Hounslow

Ruth Cadbury MP has condemned Government spending cuts to public health services, citing new research which shows Hounslow Council has lost £3.19m in funding for local public health services over the past five years.

The Government allocates local councils money to cover the cost of preventative health campaigns in the form of the Public Health Grant, but according to the leading independent health think tank The Kings Fund, the amount councils receive has been cut by £1 billion as part of the austerity programme since 2010.

Preventative health campaigns which help people avoid behaviour detrimental to their health is in the long term better for the health of the population and cheaper for the NHS. The public health team in Hounslow offer help with smoking, sexual health, obesity, public mental health, drug and alcohol services, and healthy eating.

“The £3.19m real terms cut to the team’s funding fails to prioritise this vital work” said the MP.

The pandemic has put a huge strain on local authority public health resources. Public health teams have had to manage the existing services they provide while also working to control the spread of Covid-19. The Government has made money available to help with the cost to local authorities of the pandemic.

“Public health staff having spent almost two years working flat out to tackle the worst public health crisis in living memory” said Ruth.

“In last month’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, the Government announced no real terms change to the total public health grant, which means no more funding for local public health teams in 2022/23.

“I know the public health team in Hounslow have worked so hard to keep us all safe during the pandemic and everyone locally is so grateful for all the work they’ve done, including during the delta Covid outbreak earlier this year.

“It is infuriating that despite their hard work the Government have refused to give them the support they need and cut them out of key decisions last year when a local lockdown was imposed. On top of that we’ve seen the Prime Minister waste money on crony contracts for PPE that didn’t work and a track and trace program that collapsed last summer.

“A decade of funding cuts by this Government has had a huge impact on councils such as Hounslow. It’s pointless for this Government to talk about levelling up if they’re slashing vital public health services.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“Our NHS is in crisis and patients are waiting longer for treatment thanks to years of cuts and a failure to recruit the doctors and nurses needed. In communities across the country the Government have cut the vital public health services that prevent people becoming seriously ill, ultimately putting more pressure on local hospitals. To save lives we need to keep people well, but instead public health services are set to be stretched again thanks to this Government.”

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