£1.1 million health boost

THURROCK Council has won back the £1.1 million given to Essex County Council when Public Health services were transferred to local authorities from the NHS earlier this year.

Thurrock complained that the Primary Care Trust (which covered the whole of SW Essex) spent more in Thurrock, in comparison, than in other areas it covered – Brentwood and Basildon.

However the money was split on a “per head” basis, meaning the borough missed out.

On Monday (16 December) Michael Brodie, the Finance and Commercial Director, Public Health England, wrote to Thurrock chief executive Graham Farrant admitting the error and saying the money will be paid in January.

Full details of Mr Brodie’s letter are below.

Cllr Barbara Rice, portfolio holder for health, said on Tuesday: “It’s about time this got sorted out. Everyone was told that nobody would miss out financially when public health responsibilities were transferred to councils.

“That wasn’t the case in Thurrock. We had to seriously consider making cuts to our services this year. It’s only because we were so confident of our case – and, of late were getting positive messages from civil servants – that we didn’t have to make the level of cuts we feared.”

She added: “What I can say is that had this decision not been taken, had this ‘egregious error’ not been corrected, then the people of Thurrock would have seen their public health services seriously suffer; not just this year, but on into the future too.

“Now our future ring-fenced public health grant will be based on the full £8.5 million figure Thurrock deserved.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the council officers who took up and fought our case so well.

“I’d also like to thank the Department of Health and Public Health England for seeing sense and ensuring Thurrock people did not suffer.

“We welcomed the move of Public Health into the council as it offers us an opportunity to focus the whole authority on making health improvements – especially around smoking and tackling obesity.”

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