Perverse consequences of public health cutbacks

By David Buck | 09 June 2015
  • David Buck

The announcement of a £200 million cut in the public health budget last week could hardly have been more poorly timed.  It came just as Simon Stevens, and to a lesser extent Jeremy Hunt were pinning their colours to the mast of a 'radical upgrade to prevention' at the NHS Confederation’s annual shindig. 

As Simon Stevens made clear, this means everyone doing their bit -  the NHS, local authorities, the third sector and the wider community.  He has also been vocal on central government’s role, most recently in its responsibilities on obesity.  We support this integrated approach to prevention, as recently set out in our population health paper.  

This is the context in which the Chancellor announced the cuts, which are part of a wider  reduction in spending across government. Although this was labelled 'Department of Health non NHS', it soon became clear that this means local authority public health budgets, as Duncan Selbie’s Friday Message to staff at Public Health England confirmed.

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