Sheffield health inequalities predicted to increase with £2m cut planned

Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.
Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.

Health inequalities in Sheffield and South Yorkshire will increase as a result of Government plans to cut millions from local authority budgets from January, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

More than £2.1m is to be axed from Sheffield Council’s £34m public health budget, £1.4m from Doncaster’s £23.6m allocation and around £1m each from Rotherham’s £16.3m and Barnsley’s £16.7m budgets.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in June that £200m across England would be cut this year from local authority-run public health budgets.

The Royal College of Nursing said the Government’s proposal for a blanket 6.2 per cent reduction means more unequal, heavily populated areas, particularly in South Yorkshire, are likely to lose the most per head.

The UK Faculty of Public Health has said services affected by cutbacks could include school nursing and other child health services, suicide prevention and domestic violence prevention, drug and alcohol, sexual health, weight loss support, smoking cessation services and wider mental health provision including befriending services for older people.

Glenn Turp, regional director for RCN Yorkshire & the Humber, said: “The Government keeps telling us they want to put prevention at the heart of health care but with a £20m cut from the Yorkshire & the Humber’s public health budget they are storing up big problems for the future.

“Already we’re seeing school nursing posts lost and other preventative health schemes squeezed out.

“These cuts will make health inequalities worse and disproportionately hit harder to reach communities in our cities across the region.

“It is no good claiming to protect the NHS budget but then making huge cuts to local authority services. People depend on these services to keep them well and out of hospital. Preventative health saves the NHS money.

“In the long term, these cuts will mean the health service will end up paying for these savings many times over.”

The latest Sheffield Health and Wellbeing Report said the gap in life expectancy between richest and poorest men in the city is worse now than five years ago – with men in the most deprived areas dying almost 10 years earlier than those in the wealthiest parts.

The Department of Health has said reducing budgets across the country by a standard 6.2 per cent represents ‘the simplest and most transparent option to implement’.

It said the £200m savings are required as part of ‘wider action on deficit reduction’.