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Budget cuts will impact health visiting say MPs

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Public health budget cuts to impact health visitor Public health budget cuts will impact health visitors

Reducing public health spending would affect a wide-range of services including health visiting, sexual health and vaccinations, the Health Select Committee has said.

The cross party group of MPs argued that public health budget cuts would 'have a significant knock-on effect on the NHS'.

It recommended that the government needed to analyse and closely monitor the effects of public health spending cuts on the Five Year Forward View. It raised concerns about the future of the childhood obesity strategy, and requested that the government implements the strategy at the earliest possible opportunity.

The report also looked at the nursing bursary proposals and the impact on the NHS workforce. It acknowledged that the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing have expressed concern over the

proposals to remove the bursary. However, these views contrasted to the views of Universities UK and the Council of Deans of Health, who both said this would 'provide the financial headroom to be able to loosen controls on student numbers'.

The committee recommended that the government reviews the impact on those training as a second degree and examine a transitional approach to support this section of the future workforce. It will return to the issue at a later date.

Janet Davies, the chief executive of the RCN said that it was 'good to see the Committee listening to our evidence on proposed changes to student nurse funding and urging the government to carry out a proper review of transitional arrangements before any change is implemented'.

'The RCN calls on the Government to halt this untested gamble as anything that deters people from becoming nurses would be a big loss to our society,' she added.

The committee also stated that health spending has not increased as much as 'official pronouncements'. This is because the definition of Department of Health spending has changed. The 2015 spending review defines spending in terms of NHS England's budget, which excluded spending on public health, education and training among others.

'Until there is a clear case for change, we will continue to use the previous definition of health spending, and we call on the government to do likewise,' the committee said. Using the original definitions and taking 2015-16 as the base year, total health spending will increase by £4.5 billion real terms by 2021. 'This is a welcome increase but is far less than the £8.4billion implied by the Spending Review announcements and does not in our view meet the commitment to fund the Five Year Forward View,' the report stated.

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