Our entire country is in denial about the NHS, including Philip Hammond (The Independent: 21st February)

Imagine a large barrel that we pull apart, reconstruct and expand (at considerable expense) every year.

Imagine we need to store a certain amount of precious liquid in that barrel. Now imagine that the amount of liquid we need to store each year is rising faster than the volume of the renovated barrel. The result is overspill and flooding, which makes everyone unhappy.

Here we have a description of the NHS crisis...Read More

NHS loses 9% of public health nurses in a year, triggering fresh workforce warnings (The Nursing times: 17th February 2017)

The number of health visitors working in the NHS in England has fallen by almost 9% in the space of a year, leading to warnings by senior nurses that the workforce could soon return to previous dangerously low levels.

New analysis by Nursing Times of the latest official data has revealed NHS school nurse numbers have also dropped by 6% in the same amount of time.

The reduction in staffing levels has taken place in the 12 months since the commissioning of public health services fully transferred over to cash-strapped local authorities, in October 2015.

The data appears to confirm fears that ongoing cuts to council public health budgets by the government are leading to a significant reduction in nurses working in children’s services...Read More

Public health cuts put Cornwall and Isles of Scilly STP savings at risk (National Health Executive: 28 November 2016)

Cornwall Council has warned that savings in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly STP may not be achieved because of cuts to its public health budget.

Caroline Court, the interim director of public health at Cornwall Council, who represents the council on the STP project board, raised the concerns in a report published ahead of a meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee tomorrow.

In 2015-16, £2m of Cornwall’s public health budget was reallocated to other services, such as prevention within adult social care. The council agreed not to reallocate any other funding until 2019-20, but it still faces a further £4m budget reduction because of cuts to the national government grant.

It has met the cuts so far by scaling down staff in the core and health promotion teams; reducing the value of contracts for drug, alcohol and sexual health services; and cutting the budget for NHS health checks in primary care. ...Read More.


'Desperate situation' faced by public health (BMA: 24 June 2016)

In 2014, the Five Year Forward View said ‘… the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ — to which the chancellor has responded by cutting public health budgets. Twice — and with more on the way.

The impact of the cuts in areas such as drug misuse and alcohol was a major focus of this year’s BMA annual representative meeting.

In his keynote address, BMA council chair Mark Porter condemned the ‘shoddy sleight of hand’ by which the Government had circumvented its promise not to decrease NHS spending by placing public health outside the NHS.

He said smoking cessation and sexual health services were among those under threat, adding: ‘You can't trade a public health policy for an e-cigarette and crossed fingers.’

At the ARM, doctors condemned the cuts in strong terms — for their impact on patients and on the workload of doctors as the opportunity to tackle the burden of  avoidable illness was squandered.

Cambridge GP Alice Hodkinson said the Government had ‘initially supported public health’ before embarking on the damaging cuts.

She added: ‘What will those cuts mean? Reductions in services, impacting on the poorest families… Public health cuts put pressure on the NHS. These cuts will impact most on the vulnerable.’

The threat posed by the reduction in public health budgets, now in the hands of local authorities, are very real, according to our research.

Cuts to Brighton and Hove’s sexual health service risk ‘increasing the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV’, its council says.

Meanwhile, cuts in Surrey are predicted to have an adverse effect on support for women suffering domestic abuse, while older and vulnerable adults in south London are likely to be lonelier and more isolated when its befriending service is cut, according to an impact report from Merton Council....read more


Threat of public health nurse cuts now becoming a reality (Nursing Times: 3 May 2016)

Council cuts to budgets for health visiting and school nursing services that are putting jobs at risk threaten to “unravel” recent national efforts to boost the workforce, it has been warned.

Local authorities took over the responsibility from the NHS for commissioning for services for all 0 to 19 year-olds in October. But since then the government has announced a string of cuts to the public health funding it provides to local councils.

Last summer, it announced £200m public health in-year cuts for 2015-16, which it later confirmed would be applied evenly as a 6.2% reduction for each council.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health announced it would decrease local council public health grants by £77m in 2016-17, with additional reductions expected the year after.

Nursing Times has now learnt of several regions where authorities are cutting or reviewing the budgets for health visiting and school nursing, which are paid for out of the public health grant.

Due to proposed workforce cuts and reconfigurations, it has been claimed these services could in the future be run at “dangerous” and “unsustainable” levels....read more 


Liverpool NHS jobs face the axe because of community health funding cuts (The Liverpool Echo: 17 February 2016)

Up to 30 NHS staff in Liverpool could lose their jobs as services including exercise classes for dementia patients and anti-smoking sessions face the axe.

Liverpool council is cutting the amount of cash it gives to Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH) – leaving staff in a “difficult and uncertain time”, according to trade union Unison.

Services that could be cut include healthy eating campaigns, stop smoking sessions for pregnant women, exercise classes for dementia sufferers and work to promote dental health. Unison warned the cuts will damage the city’s health in the long run by storing up problems for the future. A statement from the union said 30 LCH staff now fear losing their jobs due to the cuts...read more


GP contraceptive services cuts are 'impacting on patient care' (Pulse: 15 February 2016)

Public health experts have warned that cuts to GP-run contraceptive and sexual health services will lead to worse access and lower quality of care for patients.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) said the loss of GP contracts, as exposed by Pulse last week, had ‘worrying implications’ for the provision of long-active reversible contraception (LARC) in particular.

In a statement the Faculty said it had been contacted by a number of concerned GPs since Pulse's article was published and that its 'members are saying these cuts are impacting directly on patient care’.

Pulse's investigation revealed that GPs are losing contracts to provide LARC services in both York and London, while in one area of Devon, GP practices are facing a cut in the number of LARC fittings GPs are funded to perform – meaning they will have to drop the service altogether...read more


GP contraceptive services cut as councils target public health budgets (Pulse: 10 February 2016)

Local councils in England are scaling back GP-run contraceptive and sexual health services under a new wave of cost-saving plans that GP leaders have warned will reduce access for patients and cut off an important funding stream for practices.

A Pulse investigation has found more than 20 local councils so far that are potentially taking away the services from GP practices.

This includes complete closure of GP-run sexual health and contraceptive services in York, while 19 London boroughs are putting services out to tender, which GP leaders warn will mean fewer practices carrying out the services...read more


LMC sounds alarm over council's £8m cut to public health (Pulse: 25 January 2016)

GP practices will ‘struggle to cope’ as Government policy is forcing public health budget cuts of several millions in some areas.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds, said already under pressure practices would be picking up work when Leeds City Council is forced to cut £7.8m off its public health budget over the course of the next two years.

The council has just annunced its latest round of cuts, of £3.9m in 2016/17 and £1.1m in 2017/18, as public health funding is already due to reduce by £2.8m by the end of the current financial year - amounting to a reduction of almost £8m in total.

The council still has to find £600,000 further savings by April, with local reports suggesting Leeds’ only HIV support service, run by BHA Leeds Skyline, could lose its contract in March.

Ahead of the April deadline, the council has already cut £2.2m from 22 public health services including smoking cessation services worth £127,000 and £25,000 from sexual health services...read more


Councils cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from stop smoking services (Pulse: 22 January 2016)

Councils are cutting their smoking cessation budgets by hundreds of thousands of pounds - a move that experts warn will see ‘far fewer people’ quit smoking in the coming years.

Pulse has learnt of six major metropolitan and county councils that are cutting smoking cessation budgets.

GPs have warned that this will set smoking cessation back ’15 years’.

Smoking charity ASH reported as many as 40% of local authorities will have to shrink their budget for stop smoking services.

This follows the Government’s decision to cut £200m from the public health budget last year – which it said will not result in frontline services being cut.

However, Pulse has found six councils that are cutting services...read more


Medical training and public health budget hit as chancellor slashes non-NHS funding (Pulse: 25 November 2015)

The Government is cutting the Department of Health’s budget for non-frontline services such as medical training and public health by £1.5bn next year, it revealed in today’s long-awaited Spending Review announcement.

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that he was increasing the NHS budget by £3.8bn from next year, as part of plans to raise the overall budget by £10bn by 2020.

However, today’s announcement revealed that some of this funding will come from cuts to other parts of the budget.

Health experts said that such cuts were a ‘false economy’, and would lead to greater costs further on...read more


Government cuts to sexual health services could cost NHS ‘billions’ over next decade (Pulse: 17 November 2015)

The Government’s planned cuts to public health budgets could end up costing the health service in the region of £3.5bn over the next 10 years as unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) go up, sexual health experts are warning.

A report by the Family Planning Association anticipated cutbacks as a result of the Government’s £200m cut to local councils’ public health budgets, due to take effect from January, will hit sexual health and contraceptive services particularly hard.

The possibility of further cuts to be announced in the Chancellor’s spending review next week will exacerbate this, it added.

Assuming a 10% reduction in access to these services, economists estimate this could cost an extra £2.4bn over the next 10 years on healthcare related to unwanted pregnancies, and an additional £1.1bn on dealing with STIs.

The report found the wider costs to the public could be between £17bn and £28bn...read more


Slashed budgets and STIs: The painful truth about birth control services in Britain today (The Independent: 16 June 2015)

‘Very worrying for sexual health, as well as other services: Government announces £200m cuts to public health budget.’

So tweeted the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health last week, after George Osborne’s announcement that the Department of Health must make £200 million pounds worth of savings from public health budgets.

The news was met with alarm from the UK’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.

Already a ‘Cinderella service’, SRH care has historically been less well funded or supported than other areas of health, and often finds it hard to attract and retain staff.

The proposed cuts could make huge differences to whether you can get an appointment when you need it or even the contraceptive you want.


Only support service for vulnerable people with HIV in Leeds to be axed by city council (Yorkshire Evening Post: 15 October 2015)

Leeds’ only HIV support service faces closure, prompting fears it could leave hundreds of vulnerable people at risk.

BHA Leeds Skyline, on The Headrow, has received notification from Leeds City Council that its contract will not be renewed as of March 31 next year. 

The council cited the £2.8million public health cut handed down by the Government earlier this year as a major reason for the decision but said it will work with service users and staff to address any uncertainty.


GP funding withdrawn as direct result of Government public health cuts, says local council (Pulse: 21 September 2015)

Public health commissioners were forced to cap funding of GP-run NHS Health Checks as a direct result of the Government’s mid-year cuts in funding, a local authority has said. Hertfordshire County Council told Pulse it needed to make savings as a result of the cuts – and hoped GPs would come to an agreement with them over how to achieve this. The Government introduced a £200m cut in the public health budget in June as part of a raft of measures to ‘bring down public debt’ – although it insisted this was on projected underspends and would not affect frontline services. As revealed by Pulse, public health commissioners in Hertfordshire recently wrote to GP practices to request the change to their contracts – meaning they will be paid only for the health checks they have already completed so far this year. Local GP leaders have vowed to fight the contract change, warning that it will force practices to lay off staff and cut other GP-run services, but say they have been accused of putting GPs’ ‘personal interests’ ahead of the need to sustain other public health services such as those for drug and alcohol misuse...read more


Doctors say public health cuts will hurt NHS (On Medica: 26 June 2015)

Doctors have voted to oppose cuts to public health budgets that they say will damage the nation’s health and increase costs and pressures on the NHS.

In an emergency motion at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Liverpool yesterday, doctors voted unanimously for the motion, which condemned Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to cut £200 million from the public health grant given to local authorities.

They also rejected what was called the “spurious justification” that the public health grant is non-NHS funding. Public health became the responsibility of local authorities as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Dr Iain Kennedy, chair of the BMA’s public health committee, said that Mr Osborne’s decision would directly damage the public’s health and increase pressure on the NHS.



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