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There is one take home message from our investigation into public health cuts, which revealed the extent of services being cut across England: the idea that we can absorb cuts through efficiency without affecting patient care is a myth that should never be uttered again.
This is a favourite government line, but the truth is there is not enough slack in the healthcare system to cut budgets by 10% and retain the same level of patient care.
GPs are the ones having to say: ’sorry, these services no longer exist’
Within public health, we can see this from the removal of an award-winning weight management service in Rotherham, the removal of a falls preventions service in Essex, and the decimation of smoking cessation services across England.
GPs are the ones having to ‘provide a diet sheet printed off Google’, or tell patients they can only have bariatric surgery if they undergo 12 months of a weight management programme – but sorry, these services no longer exist.
They are also the ones having to take on the extra workload. Yet this myth has left them with no remaining capacity, with years of cuts in real-terms funding having led to longer waiting times and a dwindling workforce.
It’s beyond naïve to believe the Government will ditch its addiction to cutting health spending. But next time they do slash the budget, they could at least do us the honour of admitting that yes, patient care will be affected.