Smoking cessation and intervention services were cut by more than a third between 2013/14 and 2016/17, while sexual health promotion services budgets were down 29%, according to new figures.
The figures, published by the Labour Party and based on House of Commons Library analysis, found that budgets for stop smoking services and interventions were cut by 36% to £2.09 per head between 2013/14 and 2016/17, with more cuts are planned for 2018/19. Meanwhile, sexual health promotion, prevention and advice services have received a 29% cut – down to £1.23 per head.
In addition, specialist drug and alcohol misuse services for children and young people are set to be cut by 17% in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.
Shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called on health secretary Matt Hancock to reverse these cuts, arguing that the forthcoming NHS Long Term Plan cannot fully deliver for patients with them in place.
‘These deep cuts to public health services are completely short-sighted and will only lead to wider pressures on the NHS and adult social care services,’ Mr Ashworth said.
‘Ministers who boast of their commitment to prevention won’t be taken seriously while at the same time cutting vital services that support pregnant mothers, help people stop smoking or tackle sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.
‘These latest cuts – part of a package of £1bn worth of cuts to health services next year – must be reversed in the imminent NHS Long Term Plan.’
In response, public health minister Steve Brine said: ‘We know there’s more to do to improve our public health and reduce pressures on our NHS, which is why we have published a new vision for prevention and are investing over £16bn in public health through local government.
‘Smoking levels are at a record low, and our measures to tackle obesity, such as the Sugar Tax, are working. Labour completely failed to tackle obesity when they were in power, and it is clear their spending plans would leave less for our public services.’