Sheffield health spending changes planned

Dr Jeremy Wight
Dr Jeremy Wight
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Sheffield Council is set to launch a ‘fundamental review’ of public health - and plans to cut spending on some services by more than 10 per cent.

The council has taken over responsibility from the old NHS primary care trust for public health in Sheffield - issues including sexual health, the national child weighing and measuring programme, and stopping smoking initiatives - and says it plans the shake-up to invest in ‘tackling the real causes of ill-health’.

Councillors are expected to approve a £29.7 million public health budget at a cabinet meeting next week.

The budget includes proposals by the council to cut spending later this year by 11 per cent on some of its contracts, including services run by voluntary and community groups. The council also wants to find ways of saving £600,000 from its annual payment to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for providing sexual health services.

Dr Jeremy Wight, Sheffield’s director of public health, said cuts were needed as the authority used part of its dedicated health grant to pay for services it was already responsible for - but the services, such as the city’s breastfeeding support programme, were put at risk by a huge reduction in the council’s overall budget.

“We needed to free up funding from within the public health grant to pay for them,” Dr Wight said.

“The settlement of £29.7m is an increase, not a decrease, of about £1.1m over what was spent by the PCT on those elements of public health that have come across to the council.

“We are working with the hospitals to save money on sexual health services without any reduction in the service provided. We believe this can be done by integrating services better and through general efficiency. Negotiations are continuing.”

A hospital trust spokeswoman said it had ‘not yet agreed the required level of funding or service’.