CSP joined directors of public health and policy experts in calling for an extra £1.4bn per year in government funding by 2024-25 for public health in the upcoming Spending Review.
An open letter from the Association of Directors of Public Health, signed by CSP Chief Executive Karen Middleton, cites new analysis from the Health Foundation showing investment is needed urgently to reverse years of cuts.
The Health Foundation reports shows the public health budget has been reduced by 24% per capita since 2015-2016 (equivalent to a reduction of £1bn), with the biggest impact falling on the most deprived communities.
For example, in Blackpool – the most deprived local authority in the country – public health funding has been cut by £43 per person per year.
Girls born in Blackpool can expect to live 12.6 fewer years in good health in comparison to those in East Cheshire – the area with the highest healthy life expectancy in England.
Stop smoking services and tobacco control have seen the greatest real terms fall in funding with a 33% reduction. But there have also been significant real terms reductions for drug and alcohol services (17%), sexual health services (14%), drug, and alcohol services for young people (11%), and children’s services (5%). The one area in which spend increased has been in obesity services for children which has seen a 9% increase.
The report found that public health investment offered value for money as the cost per additional year in good health from public health interventions was £3,800, compared to £13,500 for NHS clinical interventions.
Currently many people who should benefit from rehabilitation services are missing out, which leads to more pressures on the NHS and social care. An increase in public health investment will help to reduce the health inequity gap.
CSP assistant director Sara Hazzard said, ‘Cuts to public health funding are a false economy as a failure to invest in prevention of poor health will mean greater NHS treatment costs over the longer term.
If this is about levelling up, the government needs to put the funding behind tackling health inequalities, as it is unacceptable that life expectancy across this country is still a postcode lottery.
‘The cost of not doing so will be the deepening of inequities, devastating consequences for patient health, and an already overloaded healthcare system put under increasing pressure.’
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