Spending on public health in the region will be cut next year, it was announced yesterday (Tuesday, September 9) – despite Government promises to protect the NHS.
The amounts given to local councils – for services such as smoking cessation classes, obesity clinics, school nurses and drug and alcohol treatments – will be frozen.
The Department of Health admitted that meant a cut in real terms, after inflation, but said it was necessary because “the health budget is under a lot of pressure”.
Furthermore, it comes after cash-starved town halls have already been accused of raiding their public health budgets as they wrestle with huge cuts to their overall funds.
The cut was revealed in a statement to MPs, which announced that public health funding in 2015-16 would “remain the same as last year, at £2.79bn”.
It means County Durham will continue to receive £45.8m from next April. Other frozen allocations include Darlington (£7.8m), Middlesbrough (£16.4m) Stockton (£13.1m) and North Yorkshire (£19.7m).
In response to The Northern Echo, a department of health spokeswoman acknowledged:
“This is a flat cash settlement – so it’s a real terms decrease.
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, linked the decision to the recent closures of medical centres at Skelton and Park End – with Hemlington also under threat.
“It is quite clear that our local areas NHS is being cut for purely financial reasons, with no attention to clinical need.”
Budgets for public health were transferred from the NHS to local authorities last year, as part of the Coalition’s radical overhaul of the health service.
Ministers argued councils were better equipped to tackle problems such as obesity, smoking and pollution and – ironically – that the funds had often been “raided” by the NHS.
The cut comes amid growing pressure to increase spending on the stubborn causes of ill-health, to cut the long-term cost to the health service.
Cash has been diverted to areas including trading standards, citizens’ advice bureaux, domestic abuse services, housing, parks and leisure centres, they found.
But Jane Ellison, the public health minister, said:
“We want to see local areas continue their excellent work to help people lead healthier lives.
“The money has again been ring-fenced, so the focus will remain firmly on improving the health of local communities. This will be further boosted by an extra £5m to target priority areas.”
Source – Northern Echo, 10 Sept 2014
Parts of Teesside risk being “overwhelmed by cuts and closures” to NHS services, a Labour MP told the House of Commons.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop blasted government cuts to local NHS services in a Queens Speech health debate in the House of Commons on Monday.
He said he used the debate as a way of showing how badly NHS cuts were affecting his constituency and said: “Over the space of a few weeks from this April my constituency has been overwhelmed by a perfect storm of cuts and closures pushed through by NHS England and the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).”
He said Skelton faced losing one of its GP practices, a nurse practitioner clinic and the attached pharmacy, which served socially deprived areas with “grave” health needs.
The fact the CCG was also looking at ending minor injuries provision at East Cleveland and Guisborough Hospitals, and threatening the closure of the GP surgery at Park End, in Middlesbrough, were additional “threats“, he said.
“The cumulative impact of these cuts and closures will increase the likelihood of people going to A&E at James Cook University Hospital, even when this is not appropriate” he added.
“When that A&E has struggled to cope with demand over recent years, these cuts are a false economy.“
He had sought meetings with government ministers to explore alternatives but said these were rebuffed.
A spokesman for NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “At the end of April 2014, NHS South Tees CCG launched a public consultation that focuses on proposals to improve community services for vulnerable people, the elderly and those with long-term health conditions.
Minor injury services at Guisborough and East Cleveland treated between two-ten people per day compared to 60 at similar services, according to CCG figures.
“Urgent care, including minor injury services, will be provided from Redcar Primary Care Hospital,” he added.
People are being urged to attend a public drop-in event tomorrow (Wednesday, June 11″) at the Freebrough Enterprise Centre in Brotton from 5.30pm to 7pm.
More events are planned in Guisborough, Middlesbrough and Redcar. More details are on southteesccg.nhs.uk or on 01642-745318.
Source – Northern Echo, 10 June 2014