Health funds could be raided2nd November 2011
MPs have warned that councils facing cash shortages may be tempted to raid health budgets so as they can afford to carry out basic services such as pothole repairs.
The warning comes with local councils set to take over some areas of health such as tackling obesity and excessive drinking – currently the responsibility of primary care trusts - during changes to come in by 2013 with money transferred from the NHS to cover it.
Some 150 PCT public health directors are set to move into local government in the next two years taking their funding, some £4bn of ring-fenced cash, with them.
But MPs on the Health Committee have raised concerns that councils would use the funds for other purposes such as road repairs.
Committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said it would not be an effective use of the money while Labour member Rosie Cooper said she was horrified by the prospect.
Dr Frank Atherton, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said there was a risk services could be disinvested in under the changes.
But Andrew Cozens of the Local Government Association said that would be unlikely.
He added: “Councils are already investing heavily in services that benefit health through their leisure services and social care.”
The LGA is opposed to ring-fencing the money, believing councils are best placed to decide how to spend funds locally.
The Department of Health said it was aiming to reduce health inequalities and was working with communities and business on programmes to achieve that.
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Title: Health funds could be raided
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 20245
Date Added: 2nd Nov 2011