17 February 2016
Public health spending in London faces real terms cuts of £111 million over the next five years, figures showed today.
The capital’s boroughs have already been forced to make £40 million of savings this year leading to concerns that key services including sexual health, TB prevention and immunisation campaigns will be hit.
The cuts so far have been 30 per cent higher per head for the average Londoner compared with the rest of England and seven of the 10 councils that are losing the most are in the capital.
Labour mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan warned that London was heading towards a “public health crisis” if funding continued to be cut.
A letter from the chair of Public Health England has revealed that the next round of reductions will be the equivalent of 3.9 per cent a year once inflation has been taken into account, although the actual impact for individual town halls is not yet known.
But under Labour’s predictions, public health spending would fall by more than £20 million a year up to 2020, with the poorest boroughs — including Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham — among the worst hit.
Mr Khan, who obtained the figures, said: “We are heading towards a public health crisis in London if we continue along this path. It’s shameful that London has levels of infectious disease that would embarrass many countries in the developing world.
“Meanwhile, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination levels are well below average in almost every London borough.”
Mr Khan pledged a range of measures including setting up a London health inequalities unit, improving screening for TB, campaigning for higher uptake of MMR and installing outdoor gyms to help tackle obesity.
City Hall has responsibility for tackling public health inequalities but Mr Khan is calling for extra powers to co-ordinate services.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Over the next five years we will invest more than £16 billion in local government public health services, in addition to what the NHS will continue to spend on vaccinations, screening and other preventative interventions — including the world’s first national diabetes prevention programme.
“We believe in the values of the NHS and have backed its own plan for the future with a £10 billion increase in its budget.”