£1.3m health cuts plea reply ‘patronising’

Cuts to public health budgets could impact on anti-smoking campaigns it is feared
Cuts to public health budgets could impact on anti-smoking campaigns it is feared
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Health campaigners who wrote to the Prime Minister to raise fears about spending cuts today claimed their pleas had been ‘ignored’.

It is believed Blackpool could lose £1.3m from its public health budget as part of nationwide government cuts of £200m.

Coun David Owen  (left) has written to Prime Minister David Cameron

Coun David Owen (left) has written to Prime Minister David Cameron

Last month Coun David Owen, chairman of the 38 Degrees Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre NHS Support Group, wrote to David Cameron warning the poorest residents in Blackpool will bear the brunt of the cuts.

Mr Cameron’s office passed the letter onto the Department of Health which has replied saying consultation will begin shortly about how the savings will be shared across all local authorities.

In a letter to Coun Owen, Neil Achary from the Department of Health, says: “The department can assure you that ministers recognise the concerns raised by local authorities on this issue, reflecting the enthusiasm with which they have embraced the public health duties that they were given in 2013.

“However, it is vital to the long-term health of the UK economy and the sustainability of public services that we reduce the deficit, and this means that difficult decisions need to be taken right across government.

“Even with the £2OOm savings, the Government will still have invested £8.5bn through the Public Health Grant over three years.”

In Blackpool the public health budget has been used to tackle issues such as smoking, poor nutrition and alcohol abuse in a bid to improve residents’ health.

In February, the latest statistics from Public Health England revealed of 150 authorities in England, Blackpool was rated second for people dying before the age of 75 with 549 deaths per 100,000 people.

The resort also topped the table for premature deaths relating to lung disease and liver disease - illnesses linked to smoking and drinking.

Coun Owen said: “The plea for more, not less, financial aid to help combat the very serious health issues Blackpool Council has to face, is ignored.

“Against the background of more massive savings in the NHS generally, Blackpool has little to celebrate.

“The government’s official reply to our measured summation of the very serious situation facing our residents is fatuous, unhelpful and disgracefully patronising.

“It fails to answer any of our concerns. Our plea was serious.

“We cannot accept that Blackpool Council must provide community care without the funds to bring about positive change for the life chances of our residents.”