Norfolk Liberal Democrats are calling on Norfolk County Council to push for a five-year government settlement for public health services, growing at least at the same rate as the NHS.
The Conservative government has consistently undervalued the importance of Public Health. Norfolk has received £2m less funding from the Government for public health between 2017/18 and 2019/20 despite an increased need for services. Even with an increased national amount this year it still left the funding at 22% lower on a real term per capita basis than it had been in 2015/16.
Since 2015/16 life expectancy improvements have slowed dramatically and health inequalities are widening.
Public health preventative work can bring significant health improvements - the UK now has one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe with fewer than 1 in 6 adults smoking.
Public health work is vital to lowering the Coronavirus peak and in helping people to be resilient to further waves and other pandemics. For example, people with type 1 diabetes are three-and-a-half times more likely to die if they catch Covid-19 than non-diabetics.
There is increasing concern that a major mental health crisis will result from the pandemic with the Charity MIND finding that in the Uk 65% of adult participants with a pre-existing mental health problem said it had become worse during lockdown, with this figure jumping to 75% among those aged 13-24. Of adults with no previous experience of mental health problems before lockdown, more than one in five (22%) now said that their mental health is poor or very poor.
Liberal Democrat Brian Watkins said “Spending on public health saves lives. It is really a no brainer. It helps people to live better, more enjoyable lives and in the long term saves substantial money. For every £1 invested in public health, £14 could subsequently be returned to the wider health and social care economy.”
“Investing in public health is investing in all our futures and that is why Norfolk Liberal Democrats are calling for a five-year settlement for public health services, growing at least at the same rate as the NHS.”
Brian Watkins added “It is time to stop undervaluing the important preventative work of Public Health and give it the funding it needs so that in Norfolk we can invest now for better mental and physical health for all and to address the health inequalities in our local communities.”
1.Motion to Norfolk County Council on 21 September can be viewed here (page 84) - https://norfolkcc.cmis.uk.com/norfolkcc/Meetings/tabid/128/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/496/Meeting/1659/Committee/2/Default.aspx