Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Health Bombshell Explode as Pounds 12m

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Health Bombshell Explode as Pounds 12m

Article excerpt


SWEEPING NHS reforms could see Teesside lose more than pounds 12m targeted at tackling high levels of obesity, smoking, mental health problems and cancer. Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland councils could see funding for improving public health slashed by a total of pounds 12.3m as primary care trusts (PCTs) are abolished.

Already stretched local authorities are to take up responsibility for running public health services - on a smaller budget.

And on Teesside, Middlesbrough will be hardest hit, according to a Department of Health report.

The Healthy Lives Healthy People document shows a committee advising on resources had estimated the pounds 2.2bn national pot for public health should be divided between local authorities annually from 2015.

But an interim formula, which is yet to be formally approved, has changed the weighting of public health funding to favour residents' age - rather than deprivation.

And that means areas where people live longer could receive more money.

This has prompted accusations that the coalition Government is taking funds away from deprived areas - like Middlesbrough, where the life expectancy for men is 75.7, more than two-and-a-half years less than the England average. Critics say the money will head to affluent areas like Surrey - where male life expectancy is 80.3 years.

The proposed funding formula would see Middlesbrough Council lose pounds 6.4m in public health funding each year, dropping from pounds 14.8m - pounds 99 for each resident - to pounds 8.4m - pounds 59 per resident.

The council's director of public health Edward Kunonga warns the cuts could reverse progress made to improve Middlesbrough residents' health and wellbeing. Should the proposed formula come into force, Redcar and Cleveland Council will also lose 33% - a cut of pounds 3.3m to residents' health.

And the viability of current public health contracts and services would have to be investigated.

Labour councillor George Dunning, the council's leader, said "This will have a huge impact on the area, as health is a high priority to all agencies involved. …

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