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Charity calls for public health funding to be levelled up

At least £1.2bn is needed just to restore public health funding to its 2015 levels, according to a new report.

The report by the Health Foundation warns that there is a risk that some aspects of public health will be neglected, especially following the government’s decision to scrap Public Health England earlier this year.

It argues at least £1.2bn is needed to restore public health funding to its 2015 levels, while a further £2.6bn would be needed to level up public health across the country.

Highlighting the need for major action, new analysis by the Health Foundation reveals that people living in the more affluent half of the population are much less likely to die prematurely (before the age of 75) than those living in more deprived areas.

The analysis shows that 77,000 premature deaths would have been averted in 2018, if everyone in the country enjoyed the same health as those living in the more affluent areas.

‘There is huge scope to improve people’s health and give more people the opportunity to live a healthy life,’ said the Health Foundation’s assistant director of strategic partnerships, Tim Elwell-Sutton.

‘A strong public health system isn’t a luxury – beyond the obvious benefit to the individual, good health brings with it huge economic and social benefits that are vital to the country’s prosperity.

‘The government has pledged to increase healthy life expectancy and narrow the gap between the richest and poorest. To achieve that they need a to make a serious cross-government commitment to improving health. They also need to put in place the right public health infrastructure and provide it with adequate funding – a tiny cost in comparison to what is being spent on responding to the pandemic. All of these are essential if we are to level up health.’

Responding to the report, Nick Ville, director of membership and policy at the NHS Confederation, said: ‘We are clear that cuts to public health funding are a false economy, with potentially severe repercussions down the line.

‘The public health grant saw a £700m real terms reduction between 2014/15 and 2019/20 and this has already had major ramifications for population health and the services that help all of us to live well, including those covering sexual health, obesity, and drug and alcohol services.’

Photo Credit – Jarmoluk (Pixabay)

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