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Local authority budget cuts will pressurise primary care

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Local authority funding cuts could increase pressure on primary care, say leading health figures.

The government announced on 5 June that it will cut £200 million from local authority health budgets. The cuts to funding will impact services such as school nursing, health visiting, smoking cessation and obesity services, and other public health initiatives.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health, said: 'These cuts will happen in local authorities, but they will affect nurses and other healthcare professionals, as more work will be shifted to their services.'

Fiona Smith, the RCN's lead for children and young people, agreed: 'Services that school nurses usually provide could be moved over to primary care nurses, despite that workforce already being under pressure.'

As well as impacting on primary care services, figures such as Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, said this could prevent the implementation of the Five Year Forward View's recommendations to shift the NHS' focus to preventative healthcare.

Ms Cheeseman said: 'What we are seeing is short-term thinking. We know that smoking cessation services are one of the best value services in the NHS, and cutting them will only increase costs when the patients arrive in the acute sector.'

'If the money is taken away from school nursing services, that could really impact on the provision of specialist services available to children in some areas,' added Ms Smith.

Dave Munday, the professional officer for health visiting from Unite, said: 'We are already aware of organisations looking to reduce costs in the health visiting service by attempting to down band staff which reduces the service offered to families. Preventative services often face cuts which is opposite to the government rhetoric about the importance of early intervention.'

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