Health board welcomes settlement

MEMBERS of a health board have welcomed a two year public health grant settlement worth £16m but say it is vital funding isn’t cut in future.

From April, Hartlepool Borough Council will be responsible for public health services as part of a national shake-up and it was announced recently that there is a two-year ring-fenced budget worth £5.45bn for local authorities.

Hartlepool has been awarded just over £16m over that period and it will see the current level of funding increase from £7.685m this year to £8.255m in 2013-14 and £8.486m in 2014-15.

Members of Hartlepool’s shadow health and wellbeing board met yesterday and the funding announcement was on the agenda.

Louise Wallace, director of Public Health for Hartlepool, said: “We are just working through the detail at the moment but most of it will be committed into existing arrangements and contracts.

“A comprehensive report will be coming to the cabinet committee soon.

“It is positive and at least we have a two-year settlement to allow us to plan.”

Alan Foster, chief executive of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It at least gives some protection for the next two years.”

Mrs Wallace added that a lot of work had gone on to ensure North East councils had lobbied the Government to ensure the funding settlement was fair and she said that work will continue.

Dave Stubbs, the council’s chief executive, said: “All 12 local authorities are working very hard on it and this has been the first bit of success that we have had with it.

“We will see how it goes but at the moment it looks fairly positive.”

Mr Stubbs questioned what would happen in two years time and Mrs Wallace said the funding formula was complex but it was important to “make sure the message is going back” to Government about the need to maintain funding levels.

Doctor Paul Pagni, of the Clinical Commissioning Group, said it was important the services being provided are not being duplicated.

Government officials say for the first time public health budgets will be protected, with local authorities taking the lead for improving the health of their communities.

When the funding was announced Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it will help drive local efforts to improve health and wellbeing, and the areas with the greatest needs will receive more money.

In 2013-14 the budget for local public health services will be just under £2.7bn and in 2014-15 the budget will be just under £2.8bn.