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Public health and training should not be sacrificed for seven-day services

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Dr Sarah Wollaston said that public health should Dr Sarah Wollaston said that public health should be protected

The Government's proposals for a seven-day service should not come at the expense of organisations such as Public Health England and Health Education England, the chair of the Health Select Committee has said.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, a former GP and the Conservative MP for Totnes, writing in the Telegraph, said that further cuts to public health in today’s Spending Review would damage ‘already stretched’ services such as mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, smoking cessation and sexual health. She also stated that it would be ‘unwise’ to reduce Health Education England’s ability to train future members of the NHS workforce.

‘Boosting funding for NHS England should be achieved transparently with “new money”, not come at the expense of bodies like Public Health England, which focuses on intervention and prevention to ensure a healthier population; or to Health Education England, which is responsible for workforce training,’ wrote Dr Wollaston.

Dr Wollaston also suggested that it would be unhelpful to fund a seven-day service while social care was under huge financial pressure. ‘Social care cannot be divorced from health care and if you combine budgets for both, overall spending has seen a worrying decline,’ she said.

The comments come as George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, announced that NHS England will receive a £3.8 billion funding boost for frontline services. The government said that this will allow the NHS to be a true seven-day service, with all patients able to access general practices in evenings and at weekends thanks to a £750 million investment into GP services.

‘For doctors and nurses working harder than ever on the frontline this upfront investment means we can implement the NHS’s own ambitious plan to transform services for the future,’ said health secretary Jeremy Hunt. ‘We are passionate about building an NHS that offers the safest, highest quality care anywhere in the world - with services smoothly operating seven days a week.’

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