‘Public health budget cut may make us sick’

Ambulance
Ambulance

Milton Keynes could be known as ‘sick city’ after more than half a million pounds was slashed from its public health budget, a councillor claims.

The cut is part of the Government’s £200 million proposed cut to the national budget.

It would mean Milton Keynes will lose between £500,000 and £765,000, said Labour councillor Nigel Long, who is Cabinet member for health and wellbeing.

This would affect projects such as tackling HIV and sexual health issues as well as drug and alcohol problems.

It could also hinder moves to make MK a healthier place by combating obesity, reducing smoking and promoting exercise, said Mr Long.

“The proposed cut to public health is very short sighted and goes against everything we are doing with the health service to prevent ill health,” he said.

“It is a false economy... We need health and social care staff to work together to prevent ill health. This cut undermines our joined-up working.”

Public health was historical the responsibility of the NHS, but two years ago local authorities took over the main control.

The council has a public health team whose members work to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. It aims to contribute to the reduction in health inequalities that exist between areas and groups in the city.

Said Mr Long: “In MK health and social care staff are working closely together to improve health services and reduce ill health.

“This is part of the wider work to reduce hospital admissions and reduce pressure on our GP services.”

He predicts that the proposed cut would “cost more in the long run” as the city population becomes sicker.

“It is really very poor judgement,” he said.