Experts are warning that a series of crucial health services in England could be under threat due to funding issues.
In particular, services aimed at smoking, obesity and sexual health are especially vulnerable.
The news can be placed in the context of a decision by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to cut the existing public health budget.
Osborne announced that £200 million would be shaved off the overall budget beginning in January.
This fund is currently held by councils, and thus is not part of the government’s overall promise to protect the NHS.
Yet experts operating within the health service believe that the money is vital in order to ensure that pressure is relieved on the NHS as a whole.
A total of 11 groups, including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Royal College of Nursing, NHS Confederation and Faculty of Public Health, have signed a letter to George Osborne urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reverse his plans.
The letter particularly suggested that reducing the funding would lead to increased ill-health and inequality in the general population.
Another subject touched upon by the letter was the fact that the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, had called for extra funding for the health service ahead of the general election.
Prof John Ashton, of the Faculty of Public of Health, stated: “The legacy of a decision to cut the public health grant will be major further burdens on the health service within the foreseeable future. Avoidable ill health, heart disease, sexual health problems, unplanned pregnancies – these are the kind of things which are being affected by this irrational cut to funding.”
The letter comes in the light of the recent fiscal results of the NHS that suggest that the publicly funded health service will be £2 billion in deficit by the end of the financial year.
It is clear that the NHS faces massive funding difficulties despite the promise of the Conservative government to increase spending by the end of the decade.
In addition to the financial problems related to this issue, it is also suggested that the spending cuts will significantly exacerbate inequality in the UK.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, is particularly concerned about this prospect.
“There is an unprecedented consensus that we can only address the problems facing the NHS if we invest in the future of our nation’s health by helping people to stay well. Open any report from any director of public health in any part of the country and you can see health inequalities and poor health putting pressure on NHS services and blighting people’s lives. We need the upcoming spending review to protect public health budgets,” Webster asserted.
The government responded by stating that the health service is indeed a priority for investment, but also indicated that difficult decisions need to be made across government departments to reduce the overall spending deficit.