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Portsmouth MP blasts government for £3.85m drop in local public health funding

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government after recent analysis which has revealed a £3.85m drop in local public health funding over the last five years.

The Labour analysis, verified by the House of Commons Library, has found that the £3.85m drop in public health funding for Portsmouth over the last five years equates to a real-terms cut of 17.5 per cent, or minus £20 per person in real-terms.

Cuts public health budgets have meant difficult decisions about where they spend money, alongside carrying out vital work to control the spread of Covid-19, including local outbreak planning, and crucially, promotional work to support the vaccine rollout.

In 2021/22, the public health team (like all other public health teams in England) also took on responsibility for costs associated with the provision of the anti-HIV drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and services related to it.

Local public health teams are also responsible for stop smoking services, sexual health services, health checks, public mental health, drug and alcohol services, children’s public health services, programmes to tackle obesity, amongst other key public health programmes. Their work is crucial because it supports people in Portsmouth to stay well and helps prevent health problems.

The £3.85m real terms cut to the team’s funding fails to prioritise this vital work, despite public health staff having spent almost two years working flat out to tackle the worst public health crisis in living memory.

In last month’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, the Government announced no real terms change to the total public health grant, which means no more funding for local public health teams in 2022/23.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:  

“I know the public health team in Portsmouth have worked so hard to keep us all safe during the pandemic.

“It is difficult to believe that, despite their hard work, the services they run have experienced such devastating cuts.

“The words ‘Levelling Up’ will mean nothing unless the Government invests in public health and prevention, which is key to improving local people’s lives and keeping them healthy for longer.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said:

“Our NHS is in crisis and patients are waiting longer for treatment thanks to years of Tory cuts and a failure to recruit the doctors and nurses needed.

“In communities across the country the Tories have cut the vital public health services that prevent people becoming seriously ill, ultimately putting more pressure on local hospitals.

“To save lives we need to keep people well, but instead public health services are set to be stretched again thanks to this Conservative government.”