Barrie Grunewald: Public health funding is unjust

Barrie Grunewald
Barrie Grunewald

After it was unanimously agreed at full council this week, St Helens Council is to call on the government to revise its proposals to cut public health spending.

This would effectively reallocate essential prevention funding from the most deprived local authorities to the least deprived.

The Department of Health announced in June last year that it was reducing its spending on public health grants to local authorities by £200 million.

It amounts to a reduction of £909,000 for St Helens, with further cuts likely.

The proposed formula changes and the other reductions central government are suggesting equate to the same cost as the Health Visitor and School

Nursing services that we inherited from the NHS.

This will have a severe impact on many deprived authorities and will further exacerbate the health inequalities between St Helens and more affluent authorities.

Investment in programmes such as mental wellbeing, weight management and drug and alcohol treatment is essential to reduce the burden of preventable disease.

Investment in health and wellbeing in early years and school age programmes provides the best start in life for our children and young people.

The reduction in grant will subsequently mean a reduction in service locally and potentially the cessation of some services completely.

This council firmly believes that it's more important that the distribution of available resources reflects the assessed needs of areas – including levels of deprivation and health inequalities.

Given the already announced reduction in public health grant allocation and the proposed changes to the formula, we're extremely concerned about how we will continue to deliver our mandated public health services and functions - and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.

Do you currently run your own business? Thinking of starting a new venture? St Mary's Market is ready to accommodate a range of stores; from bakeries, fishmongers and health foods, to electricals, hardware and florists.

There are vacant stalls in prime locations available now. What’s more, the first three months’ rent is free! To find out how you can become a trader at St Mary’s Market, call 01744 677155 or email themarketsteam@sthelens.gov.uk

St Mary’s Market offers a fantastic indoor shopping experience right in the heart of St Helens town centre.

Open Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm, there’s something for everyone under one roof.

With a variety of stalls and a spacious café, why not come and see what St Mary’s has to offer, and support your local market?

As the North West braces for imminent colder weather after an announcement by Public Health England and the Met Office earlier this week of a Level 2 Cold Weather Alert, St Helens Council is urging residents to stay warm and safe and to look after vulnerable family and neighbours.

A Level 2 alert means that within the next 48 hours, there is a 60 per cent chance of severe weather, with average temperatures of 2C or below. There is also the possibility of wintry showers, overnight frost and a chance of icy patches. Weather warnings prompting awareness of potential severe weather are currently in place across much of the North West.

Residents are reminded that a limited supply of Winter Warmer packs is being offered to older or vulnerable members of the community. Each free pack contains cold weather essentials and important information about keeping healthy throughout winter. They’re available for collection from the Mansion House, Victoria Park, City Road.