Hartlepool health budget cut by £573,000

Public health budgets pay for drug and alcohol services among other things.
Public health budgets pay for drug and alcohol services among other things.

Hartlepool Borough Council is facing cuts of more than £550,000 to its health budget.

Figures released by the Royal College of Nursing reveal that the Government is cutting £14.75million from the region’s local authority health budgets in January 2016.

Until that national consultation is concluded, we don’t know what the proposed reduction for Hartlepool will be, but, given the massive health inequalities which we and our health partners are tackling in Hartlepool, we are continuing to lobby very vigorously for Hartlepool to receive a fair level of funding.

Council spokesman

The town will suffer cuts of £573,000.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in June that £200m across England would be cut this year from the former NHS budget.

The North East and Cumbria have historically had higher public health funding in recognition of its greater health inequalities, but the Government’s proposal for a blanket 6.2% reduction means that the region is likely to be disproportionately disadvantaged.

Public health budgets were transferred to local authorities from the NHS in April 2013.

The money is used to fund things like alcohol and drug services, sexual health services, and school nursing.

Royal College of Nursing Northern region spokesman, Jake Turnbull, said: “By imposing these cuts on local government, Westminster is once again showing its complete disregard for the needs of the North and our most vulnerable citizens.

“National government keeps saying that they want to put prevention at the heart of health care but their actions tell a very different story.

“We are already seeing a number of cuts to local preventative health programmes. These cuts will make health inequalities worse. They are hitting the poor hardest.

“It is risible that they claim that they are protecting the NHS budget but at the same time passing on NHS services to local authorities, who are then forced to cut them, because they in turn have been hit by inequitable central government settlements.

“The whole point of preventative health is that it saves the NHS money by keeping people well and out of hospital. It’s a false economy. By moving public health from the NHS to local authorities, the Chancellor has undertaken a sleight of hand to cover up for the fact that they have reneged on their commitment to protect the health budget.”

A Hartlepool Council spokesman said: “There is currently national consultation ongoing through the Department of Health regarding making £200million savings from the public health grant nationally.

“Until that national consultation is concluded, we don’t know what the proposed reduction for Hartlepool will be, but, given the massive health inequalities which we and our health partners are tackling in Hartlepool, we are continuing to lobby very vigorously for Hartlepool to receive a fair level of funding.”