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Friday 21st October 2016

NHS is facing 'seven years of famine'

1st July 2009

Dr Alan Maryon-Davis, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, warns that the NHS is facing severe cutbacks because of the economic downturn.


From April 2011 the NHS will sees its budget cut back as the Treasury claws back money to help rebuild the reserves.

Already planners are looking at where savings can be made and my worry is that the soft targets of preventive programmes such as stop smoking services, healthy eating initiatives, physical activity promotion and alcohol education projects, mental health work will be the first for the chop.

It’s not the first time. When there were cuts to NHS budgets in 2006/07, the national health improvement strategy Choosing Health fell victim.

But this time the cuts will be deeper and long lasting as the NHS faces "a new ice age".

My plea to health service planners and commissioners is to leave prevention alone.

They should look elsewhere for savings; areas where too many people are being inappropriately treated in hospital, being prescribed high cost drugs or going to A&E rather than their GP.

It is short-sighted to cut back on programmes that can help prevent the chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancers, chronic lung disease and mental illness, that are crippling the health service.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness has shown how cost-effective low-tech preventive programmes can be but only 1% or so of the NHS budget is currently spent on promoting health.

We must protect our health promotion and disease prevention services and start investing in them now.


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