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The waiting game

LMC sounds alarm over council's £8m cut to public health

GP practices will ‘struggle to cope’ as Government policy is forcing public health budget cuts of several millions in some areas.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds, said already under pressure practices would be picking up work when Leeds City Council is forced to cut £7.8m off its public health budget over the course of the next two years.

The council has just annunced its latest round of cuts, of £3.9m in 2016/17 and £1.1m in 2017/18, as public health funding is already due to reduce by £2.8m by the end of the current financial year - amounting to a reduction of almost £8m in total.

The council still has to find £600,000 further savings by April, with local reports suggesting Leeds’ only HIV support service, run by BHA Leeds Skyline, could lose its contract in March.

Ahead of the April deadline, the council has already cut £2.2m from 22 public health services including smoking cessation services worth £127,000 and £25,000 from sexual health services.

However, BHA Leeds Skyline told Pulse that although it will face some cuts, its HIV service will remain open.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services, said the cuts are ’likely to be followed by more reductions in subsequent years’ in order to cope with a £650m deficit for healthcare services.

Dr Vautrey, who is also assistant medical secretary of Leeds LMC, told Pulse there is a ‘fear that the currently under pressure GP and community service would struggle to cope with any further cuts, particularly of this magnitude, and the focus on public health for the population we serve would be compromised as a result’.

The swingeing cuts follow on from the Government’s decisions to cut £200m from the public health budget last year and to reduce public health budgets by 4% year-on-year for five years.

This comes as experts warned there would be ’far fewer people’ quitting smoking in the coming years after Pulse revealed that councils are cutting their smoking cessation budgets by hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Leeds City Council has yet to confirm which services will be affected by the cuts in the coming years.

Public health funding cuts

condom, sexual health, sexxually transmitted disease, sit, std, contraception - online

condom, sexual health, sexxually transmitted disease, sit, std, contraception - online

Local authorities have been responsible for holding public health budgets since the April 2013 implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which abolished Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

This division, whereby only NHS England funding is protected under the Government’s pledged ringfence of the NHS budget, has left public health budgets vulnerable to the Government’s ambitious plans to reduce the country’s overall deficit.

Only last week, a Pulse investigation revealed that councils across England - including Leeds - are cutting their budgets for smoking cessation by hundreds of thousands, with experts warning of dire consequences to public health as a result.

Meanwhile, sexual health experts have warned cuts to public health budgets could lead to billions in added costs later on.

The Government announced in November’s spending settlement that it would be cutting £1.5bn from ‘non frontline services’ health budgets such as medical training and public health spend during 2016/17.

See more: Councils cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from stop smoking services 

Readers' comments (10)

  • Took Early Retirement

    "GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds, said already under pressure practices would be picking up work when Leeds City Council is forced to cut £7.8m off its public health budget over the course of the next two years."

    WHY????? No funding- no work. ANd this bloke is a "leader" of GPs????

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  • If you defund the contraceptive clinics then you just build more primary schools 5 years later . Worse still, is that the children that do result are often born in troubled families. They cost a fortune in social service spending later.

    It is estimated that every pound spent on contraception, £12 is saved later on. Of course those savings are from different budgets.

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  • Agree with John Glasspool. Typical GP leadership accepting "the GP's lot" and feebly moaning, instead of saying NO!

    Ditch the contract comrades.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Medical health care is a form of Care
    Social health care is Care
    Mental health care is Care
    Public health care is Care
    Sexual health care is Care.
    But what this government really wants to say is it does not want to pay for this Care
    One by one , Care will fall down
    Big society , you just have to pay for your own Care

    It is so annoying that academic representations like NICE still want to remain 'professional and neutral' telling us to do this and do that instead of standing up against this despicable government.......

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  • The cuts are just kicking in now....recession is again on the horizon.........

    and yet GPs (thanks to inept, emaculated muppet leadership) are expected to pick up the slack.

    Its beyond embarrassing now. Whenever i start to miss the green fields of england I always log onto pulse and gives me an instant free cure from these delusions. Im well aware that the fine land where I was born, raised and educated and trained as a GP is doomed and beyond redemption. the only question now in my mind is how long can this facade actually last and how many of the sensible ones will have jacked it in or left prior to total fubar collapse...

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  • To 10.27
    I am amazed, that you even look back, having escaped this pathetic shambles of a country that still has the audacity to call itself "Great" Britain - even though the "great" is a throwback from the French description "Grande Britany" and nothing to do with actually being great - sorry to burst your bubble Nigel Farage. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, good luck. I hope to join you soon and I hope my GP colleagues have enough self-respect to follow.

    Ditch the contract comrades!

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  • A bit hypocritical really as a significant number of LMC members also sit on Wellbeing and CCG boards, in effect signing off measures they now appear to object!
    Conflict of Interest is endemic in the LMCs and eventually will bring about their downfall.

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  • John Glasspool | Other GP25 Jan 2016 6:19pm

    I'm a bit surprised by your post as you are normally very wise.

    We know socioeconomic status (or lack of) is closely linked with health and mortality. Look at higher disease prevalence, mortality rate, substance abuse etc etc. It's not difficult to imagine many of these will impact on health.

    Even at more specific level - lack of duty social workers to assess and place an emergency respite will inevitably force "social" admission into secondary care. This will have significant cost implication for the CCG but also for pressure on hospital to discharge patient prematurly which then lands on our lap on Friday afternoon as an emergency visit - "Mr .Elderly was only discharged 2 days ago and has deteriorated rapidly"

    So we can't choose to ignore the work this brings. Unless we are all a salaried profession with fixed working hours and breaks. For a partner on GMS contract like me, this means calling my wife to let her know I'll be home at 8pm as I'll be seeing Mr Elderly after my surgery.

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  • @10:35-- I must say it wasnt always like this!

    The UK growing up was probably the best country in the world or am I looking through rose tinted specs?? welcoming, free education a fine sense of community and a health service that even I as a mid 30's ex UK trained GP partner believed was the best in the world!!

    one wonders how it could go to sh@% so quickly? Anyhow with comrade Corbyn unlikley to provide any real opposition we know that the tories have free reign for the next decade or so by then which the UK will be a totally different land from which it is even today!!!

    primary care wont get better im certain and with another long and painful recession on its way ditching the contract as you so eloquently keep repeating wont make an iota of a difference----- most Brits , despite it being a rich country are dirt poor and wont be able to stomach paying real cold hard cash to see a GP or perhaps drug costs etc as they do down under ( insurance/ co pays etc)

    Still theres always legions of doctors available from Greece, Romania etc who will be willing to do the work you currently do (and i used to do) for a cup of tea and bowl of gruel once the poorhouses are back in business (excuse my flippant comment- i take no pride in the loss of my once beloved land)

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  • Nhsfatcat

    They don't care and just change 'care' to 'service.'
    Services are paid for.
    The elite know nothing about providing service having everything done by servants.
    The lower you can get away paying for service the better.
    ideology trumps civility.

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