14/11/2018 - Permalink

Scrutiny committee commits to ensuring people still get access to public health services amid budget pressures

Related topics: Adult services / Children's services / Corporate, finance, assets / Health / My area

Shropshire’s Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HASC) have pledged a commitment to ensure people get access to public health services amid budget pressures.

The call out follows the Public Health Grant 2018-2020 update report presented to HASC on Monday 12 November 2018 which outlined further savings needed to balance the council’s budget. The report details a further £2m saving needed on top of the already £2m identified in the previous financial review. These are currently proposals and have not been agreed.

Those services affected include health promotion and illness prevention programmes which are currently seen as non-mandatory, and include programmes such as weight management, smoking cessation, health checks and falls prevention, as well as physical activity and children’s health promotion.

In addition to the council’s budgetary challenges, Shropshire receives the lowest public health funding per head in the West Midlands, and is one of lowest in England at only £39 per head of population, compared to the likes of Kensington and Chelsea which receives £135 per head of population.

Over the past five years, Shropshire Council has continued to lobby government and ministers to receive a fair funding allocation that reflects the needs of Shropshire communities.

Karen Calder, Chair of HASC, said:

“This was a very honest but stark report which outlined the severe implications of what could happen to those services affected by the budget savings. This not only puts our public health service under threat, but also presents challenges to our adult social care and children’s services who also deliver public health programmes.

“As a committee we appreciate the difficult financial environment that the council faces and that we are considerably underfunded as a rural council generally, and that we receive one of the lowest public health per capita grants in the country. However, our role as a critical friend to the council and our partners is to challenge any proposals put forward and decisions made. The committee welcomes this is the first time a report of this nature has come to scrutiny before Cabinet reflects on the proposals.

“We can’t stress enough on emphasising that greater investment in prevention is needed to enable the council and its partners to reduce the incidence and prevalence of chronic illnesses that can blight the lives of people and places significant pressure on NHS and social care services.”

The committee advocated and agreed further recommendations to the report to ensure Shropshire residents get a fair deal. These included:

  • Continuing to lobby central government to keep pushing for a proper understanding of rural challenges and deprivation, and push for a fair funding formula which takes rural challenges into account.
  • Writing to the following Government officials and organisations
    • Matt Hancock, MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
    • Dr Sarah Woollaston, MP, Chair of Health Select Committee
    • Sir Neil McKay – STP Chair
    • Anne Marie-Morris, MP, (All Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Health and Social Care)
    • Local MPs
    • LGA Champion for Public Health
    • Duncan Selbie, Public Health England
  • Bringing the report to the Health and Well-Being Board for discussion with stakeholders
  • Raising the issues at the Local Government Association’s People and Place Board meeting
  • Raising the issue publicly to ensure the public are made aware of and engaged in these issues.

Karen Calder continued:-

“We will continue to push hard and lobby MPs and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, setting out in the starkest terms the implications of stopping funding for these areas of prevention in the short, medium and long term, and how this flies in the face of prevention being one of the three priorities of the Secretary of State. We will also be writing to as many prominent and influential organisations as possible to highlight our concerns.”

The committee also strongly recommended that impact assessments should accompany the report that goes to Cabinet and that it should not be seen in isolation, as there are implications to the prevention agenda in adult social care and children’s services.

To view the report click here.