Cuts to Hampshire public health budget 'will cause preventable harm'

CONCERNS have been raised over plans to cut public health services in Hampshire.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 3:25 pm

Hampshire County Council is looking to cut almost £7m from its public health budget, with sexual health, substance abuse treatment, 0-19 nursing (including school nursing) and anti-smoking campaigns all set to see funding slashed.

Now, a consortium of organisations advocating for women's health has written to the county council, calling for a rethink of the budget cuts.

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A number of public health services are facing budget cuts. Picture: Jason Chadwick

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: '[The] proposals introduce unacceptable risks which will cause preventable harm and widen inequalities.

'As collaborative organisations with a shared aim to ensure the best outcomes for mothers and babies, we are extremely worried that service cuts in one part of the health care system will inevitably have a significant knock-on impact on other parts of the system, including maternity services which cannot be ignored.

'Hampshire County Council is not alone in facing these very challenging decisions and considerations.

'A sustainable national solution is urgently needed to ensure that all babies, children, and families have access to an effective health visiting service as part of a fully funded national healthy child programme, regardless of where they live – this is too important to be left to chance.'

The consortium, which also includes Sands and NCT, has suggested that the county council should prioritise public health work with children and families, with a specific protection of the health visiting service.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Keith Mans, has previously spoken about how the current funding system from central government is 'not sustainable'.

He has also acknowledged the difficulty of decisions lying ahead for the council.

Cllr Mans said: 'We are looking at the priorities and what we need to shift - but the fact is if you reduce funding in any area you're inevitably going to get concerns.

'What we need to do is provide the best services we can, using the funding we've got available.

'I would like to see the public health funding increased at the same rate as the funding for the NHS. That would be the ideal solution.'

The public consultation period concluded on August 9.

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