Britain used to lead the world in Public health, what are public health services? Public health is about preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting good health in everyone in our communities. Public health is therefore the first step towards promoting a healthier population and thus reducing downstream costs to the NHS.
In 2012, the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act saw arguably the largest restructuring in NHS history. This wholesale reorganisation led to significant changes to the funding, organisation and accountability of public health, destabilising health protection arrangements that had been in place for two decades.
Local authorities have, since 1 April 2013, been responsible for improving the health of their local population and for public health services. Whilst this transfer arguably did make sense, local authorities do know their own population. However, was the real reason that the Government wanted to make cuts.If it cut the public health budget without the transfer it would have been a direct cut to the NHS..politically a disaster!
Local authorities across the Country have had their public health grant funding cut by £700 million in real terms between 2014/15 and 2019/20 and delivering the public health functions is now unsustainable with current funding. This equates to a reduction of almost a quarter in spending per person.
One of the functions of Public health is the planning and response to viruses and as we now know the Government’s response has been a disaster and we have one of the worst outcomes in the world.
I would argue that the systematic cuts to public health prior to the Covid 19 outbreak have had a huge impact during the pandemic and we have paid a massive price for Tory austerity.