Friday, March 1, 2024

Council to pressurise government over health funding

THURROCK councillors unanimously agreed to pressurise the Department of Health to fully fund Public Health in Thurrock.

Wednesday (24 July) evening’s meeting of the council heard that when Public Health duties were transferred to councils from PCTs on 1 April, full funding was supposed to follow.

However, because the Department worked out the funding on population – and not where it had been spent previously – Thurrock received £1.1 million less than it should have.

Cllr Barbara Rice, proposer of the motion, said: “We welcome the transfer of Public Health functions to this council and note that, despite promises that funding would be at 2012/13 levels. The grant includes a funding cut of 12.7 per cent – or £1.124m.

“The council calls on the Department of Health to fully restore the level of Public Health Grant funding to £8.541m.”

She said: “The move for Public Health to local authorities should have been a direct switch with no reduction in funding.

“This is not the case for Thurrock. Nearly all other councils nationally received their expected public health allocations and in some cases received more.”

Members heard that in Thurrock overall “premature mortality”, premature mortality from cancer, premature mortality from cardio-vascular disease, premature mortality from lung disease, and lifestyle and childhood and adult obesity were all higher than national average.

Cllr Rice outlined areas which had been cut, including Adult Weight Management (five per cent), when smoking and obesity rates are increasing locally; health checks which allows people knowledge of their cardiac risks; c score and onward referral to appropriate services; children’s weight management services; smoking cessation (five per cent); Healthy Schools; sexual health services have been reduced by one clinic; community mums and dads; and parenting and breastfeeding.

The Healthy schools co-ordination has had to be fully decommissioned so that from September there will be no facilitated support or local co-ordination for schools progressing towards enhanced healthy schools status.

Speaking afterwards, seconder the motion and Cllr Rice’s “shadow”, Cllr Shane Hebb, said: “The changes made have been done for the sincerest of reasons, but the implementation has not been without issue.

“Policy makers have assured local government that no council would find themselves disadvantaged, but in Thurrock we have become less well-off in contributions than hoped. The budget has been based on population numbers, not population needs.”

He also highlighted the “good cross-party work” that had been done to try and get the “Public Health budget restored to local health needs, rather than numbers”.

The motion was carried unanimously.



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