BMA slams 'weak' politicians over £400m public health cuts

Politicians have been 'slow and weak' on tackling obesity, smoking and binge drinking, the BMA has warned as it hit out at funding cuts that will strip £400m from public health by 2020/21.

A series of reports released by the doctors' union ahead of the June general election warn that public health cuts are a false economy 'undermining a prevention-based approach and costing the NHS more in the long term.

'Many cases of type 2 diabetes are entirely preventable through public health approaches, yet, its prevalence is increasing year on year in the UK. In 2010/11, the cost across the UK was estimated at £8.8 billion, and is predicted to rise to almost double, £15.1 billion by 2035/2036,' the reports warn.

Cuts are undermining patient care and access to key services, the BMA says. It points out that a quarter of local authorities reduced sexual healthcare spending by more than 20% between 2013/14 and 2015/16 - with the majority also reducing smoking cessation spending last year 'despite smoking being the biggest cause of preventable death in every part of England'

Public health

The warnings follow a manifesto of demands published by the BMA, which called for an increase in health spending from the current 9.8% to 10.4% of GDP, in line with similar EU countries. Such an increase would, the BMA said, have provided an extra £10.3bn for the NHS in 2015, enough to fund 10,000 new GPs.

In a recent survey of doctors by the BMA, 62% reported either absolute or relative cuts to funding over the past 12 months.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: 'When it comes to public health, the UK is going backwards. Prevention is better than cure and cuts to public health have a damaging impact on individuals’ health and wellbeing, and end up costing the NHS more in the long term.

'In England, successive governments have failed to deliver a long-term plan to improve public health, and too often evidence-based public health measures have been kicked into the long grass. We need tighter regulation of the food and soft drinks industry, a minimum unit price on alcohol and support for people to quit smoking.

Smoking cessation

'Whoever is in government next must make tackling the crisis in public health a priority. With the NHS at breaking point, and demand on services only set to rise we are facing a ticking time bomb.'

A Conservative party spokeswoman said: 'We are committed to improving the health of the nation - smoking rates are now the lowest in our history, with cancer survival the highest, and we've put in place a childhood obesity plan Public Health England calls the most ambitious in the world.

'But the truth is that this all depends on a strong economy - we spent £3.4bn on public health programmes last year.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

External wall of GP surgery with wording 'medical centre'

‘Utterly toxic’: GPs speak out over abuse and physical attacks on practice teams

GPs have condemned a rise in verbal and physical attacks on practice staff - warning...

Artist's image of a spiked virus

Javid warns of 'substantial risk' from new COVID-19 variant

The highly mutated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 'may pose a significant risk to public...

Desk with lettering 'LMC conference'

LMCs reject 'outdated' GMS contract and demand move to item of service payments

LMCs have voted to scrap the 'outdated and inadequate' GMS contract and to replace...

GPs at an LMC conference waving green voting cards in the air

LMCs demand ringfence on enhanced services cash and clear GP representation in ICSs

LMCs have called for a ringfence on enhanced services funding, along with a guarantee...

Close up of hands typing on a computer

Practices should not be required to provide online consultations, say LMCs

Online consultations should no longer be a part of the GMS contract and targets for...

Sign outside BMA House

More than half of GP practices prepared to pull out of PCNs, BMA ballot shows

More than half of GP practices in England are prepared to opt out of the PCN DES...