Public health going backwards with ‘inconsistent approach’

Efforts to improve public health in the UK are being undermined by an “inconsistent approach” to using evidence-based measures, and continued cuts to budgets mean we are now facing a “ticking time bomb”, according doctors’ leaders.

In its manifesto, A Vote for Health, the BMA slammed successive governments for failing to deliver a long-term plan to improve public health. From a watered-down childhood obesity strategy and failure to publish a new tobacco control plan, the union argued politicians have been too “slow and weak” to tackle these challenges.

Commitments to prioritise prevention are not being matched by funding, it argued, since public health only accounts for approximately 5% of health spending. And as previously reported, following an in-year cut of £200m in 2015 of the public health grant, there will be a further cut of £400m in the period up to 2020-21.

Cuts to public health budgets, argued the BMA, have been described as a false economy, undermining a prevention-based approach. It also claims the cuts are impacting on patients accessing vital services, with a quarter of councils reducing spending on sexual health services by 20% from 2013 and nearly 60% cutting smoking cessation budgets last year.

“When it comes to public health, the UK is going backwards,” Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, claimed. “Prevention is better than cure and cuts to public health have a damaging impact on individuals’ health and wellbeing, and end up costing the NHS more in the long term.”

He added that there needs to be tighter regulation of the food and soft drinks industry, a minimum unit price on alcohol and support for people to quit smoking.

As part of its manifesto, the union is calling on political parties to work with health professionals to deliver a public health strategy focused on tackling the causes of ill-health over a generation, as well as prioritise measures to tackle the impact of unhealthy food and drink, tobacco and alcohol. This includes a 20% tax on sugar sweetened drinks and the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol set at no less than 50p per unit.

“Whoever is in government next must make public health a priority,” stated Dr Porter. “With the NHS at breaking point, and demand on services only set to rise we are facing a ticking time bomb.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

23/06/2020Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

Evolution is crucial in any business and Public Sector Executive is no different. Long before Covid-19 even became a thought in the back of our minds, the team at PS... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

public sector events

events calendar


August 2020

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

featured articles

View all News