TOWER HAMLETS IS TO EXPERIENCE ALMOST 10% REDUCTION
IN PUBLIC HEALTH GRANT FOR 2016/17
I have just attended a public consultation to see how Tower Hamlets Health Services will be able to manage to save Five Million Pounds (yes, £5m) from their budget over this coming year, which is almost 10% of it’s current grant allocation from the Department of Health. They are trying to absorb this financial reduction with minimal disruption to current service provision.
The question is, how can they further reduce services which have already been cut to the bone. We are already in a position where vital health services are being provided by trained volunteers, so where can they go next? Do we get volunteers who are willing to pay to do the job?
The services for last year 2015/16 cost around £42m. This year they are expected to operate the same level of service provision on their revised budget of £36.9m, a cut of around £5m.
Just what is the Public Health Grant for?
The grant is to provide locally required services not covered by the NHS and the local Bart’s Trust. This must include:
- Public Health Advice
- Sexual Health Testing
- Sexual Health Treatment
- Health Checks
- Engaging the Local Authority role in Health Protection
- The National Child Measurement Programme
- Services for Children aged 0-5
As well as the above compulsory requirements, within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the grant also covers helping people to:
- Seek early help for medical conditions
- Build positive health habits into their daily life
- Live in environments which are safe and health promoting
- Promote their mental wellbeing
- Be free from behaviours harmful to health
These headings include things like Maternity and Early Years care and treatment, and outreach projects which pretty much involve the whole community in one way or another.
The additional problems caused by Tower Hamlets having a constant increase in population (and therefore on service requirements) was acknowledged, but the cuts still have to be made.
It was sad to see so few turn out for this Public Consultation, as it was dealing with the health care of the whole borough, but it was encouraging to see that those who were there were all dedicated to do their utmost to make existing services stretch as far as possible to ensure that they will all do the very best with what they will have available, although there was some concern (which I raised) that with services so far stretched, the elastic may snap, and we could end out with people ‘falling through the net’, and that they face the ultimate consequence as a result. This was seen as a clear possibility, regrettable as it seems.
We may just struggle through this cut in services, although I honestly believe that these services are close to breaking, to the point that they could collapse,
but the bigger problem is –