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'
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.
'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.'