This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Public health set for cuts of £85 million from national government

Written by: | Published:

Jeremy Hunt spoke positively about public health Jeremy Hunt spoke positively about public health

Spending on public health services will fall by £85 million as government cuts force local councils to reduce their budgetary plans.

Analysis from the King’s Fund has shown that sexual health clinics are among the council-run services which will be impacted by changes to funding. Councils will spend £2.52 billion on public health services in 2017/18, compared to £2.6 billion the year before.

READ MORE: First-ever health profiles for England put focus on social causes of ill health

Spending on sexual health services will fall by £30 million compared to last year – a 5% cut. The budget to tackle drug misuse will fall by 5.5% from last year to £22 million, while stop-smoking services will be slashed by £16 million – 15% down on the previous year.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called on the government to reverse the plans it believes are ‘short-termist’ and ‘storing up problems for the future’.

RCN head of nursing Wendy Preston said: ‘It is deeply concerning the government is choosing to underfund health and care services.

‘Clinics led by nurses are extremely successful – the evidence shows investment in prevention and intervention services works for patients and gives better value to taxpayers.’

Spending on sexual health services has fallen by £64 million (10%) in the past four years, despite significant increases in some STI rates.

READ MORE: Hunt's plans to streamline hospital-to-social care pathways revealed

Ms Preston said people are already struggling to access sexual health clinics, leading to further disease transmission.

The above reductions follow planned government cuts in public health funding of at least £600 million by 2020/21.

The cuts are particularly galling as last year Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that making good progress on public health has the biggest effect on health inequalities.

King’s Fund public health senior fellow David Buck said: ‘At a time when the rate of syphilis is at its highest level for 70 years, cuts on sexual health services are the falsest of false economies and storing up problems for the future.’

The Department of Health said it had a ‘strong track record’ on public health, with cancer survival and dementia diagnosis at a record high and smoking rates and teen pregnancies at an all-time low.

READ MORE: NHS tops international study, but falling behind in healthcare outcomes

A spokesperson said: ‘Over the current spending period we will invest more than £16 billion in local government public health services.

‘Moreover, we are willing to take tough action to protect the public’s health, including introducing standardised packaging of cigarettes, a soft drinks industry levy and a world-leading childhood obesity plan.’

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.



Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.