Until the pandemic most of us barely gave a thought to public health, but Covid has shown us that health is one of the basic necessities of life. Public health spending is an essential preventative measure, providing savings for the NHS, the government, and HCC not just now but far into the future. Outcomes affect not just the immediate users of these services, but the Council and the wider community, who have to pay for bad outcomes, often for many years to come.  So its very disapointing that the Government continues to slash the ring fenced funding it gives to local authorities for public health.

In Hampshire this means massive cuts to direct services are proposed. They have an online consultation you can complete here: https://www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay/consultations/public-health-consultation

In brief the Services affected are:

  • Substance and Alcohol Misuse Services
  • Stop-smoking services
  • Sexual health services
  • Health Visiting to mums and new-borns
  • Cutting School nurses to pupils over 11

You can read a little more about the impact of each of these below.

Health visiting

The health visiting part of the service is provided to children aged 0 to 7 years and their family. It supports parents to focus on the needs and priorities of their baby and family during pregnancy, the first years of life and beyond.

The proposal will mean only providing one face to face Health Visitor visit to mums and new-borns

Support for families involves helping families with young children identify and cope with major and minor health problems, so the children can grow up healthy and well-adjusted. It also involves looking out for warning signs of personal danger and abuse.
Failures in safeguarding vulnerable children can have immediate and disastrous consequences. Reducing such care could put HCC at risk of blame, adverse publicity, and legal action.

School Nursing

School nurses help children with many problems, including anorexia, bulimia, bullying, depression, autism/Asperger’s, anxiety, and safeguarding.

HCC proposal will mean they will only cut face to face school nurse support to children and young people over the age of 11 years

GPs often refer children with these problems and more to their school nurse, who has the time, experience and knowledge to deal with these problems better than the GP can.
Reducing the service can only harm children, and at a time when so many have suffered from losing a year or more of schooling, and are less well-equipped to deal with the many problems of childhood and adolescence.

Sexual Health Services

Hampshire County Council is required to provide sexual health services which must include the following statutory services:

  • open access sexual health services for the prevention of, treatment, testing and caring for people with sexual transmitted infections;
  • contraceptive services, including access to a broad range of contraceptives;
  • providing advice on preventing unintended pregnancy

Proposals to cut the budget for sexual health services by £.5+ million per year by reducing/stopping all non-statutory services. This proposal includes:

  • reducing sexual health promotion and HIV prevention services. ;
  • stopping counselling for people experiencing psychosexual problems;
  • stopping provision of free sexual health training for non-specialist sexual health staff.
  • closing the smaller sexual health clinics in Alton, Hythe, New Milton, Ringwood and Romsey;
  • stopping access to free emergency contraception ( ‘morning after pill’) at community pharmacies to women over 24;
  • removing the HIV and syphilis self-sampling service for testing for transmitable sexual disease.

Good accessable contraception is important to women and the closure of sexual health clinics that deal with contraception services including coil fitting are being closed in some areas, increase the burndon on GPs and other parts of the NHS.  Sexual diseases can have severely debilitating effects on physical and especially mental health. Every person with a sexual disease can go on to infect many more. Anti-HIV drugs, consultations and treatments can cost considerable amounts over a long period. Lost work hours and increased social care costs can also mount up very quickly.The consultation document states that some of these are not a statutory necessity, but should Hampshire only be providing the bare minimum, as specified by a central government which itself has often not understood the moral necessity and financial benefits of preventative healthcare? Who will provide these services if the Council will not?

Stop Smoking Services – SmokeFree

Many people die early and in poor health from smoking-related disease, the last decades of their lives are of very poor quality – they can have very little mobility and constant health issues. To take just a cold financial view, their health issues cost the county and the NHS many, many thousands of pounds. Many studies show the huge impact of smoking-related diseases on the NHS and health services generally. Rather than reducing the amount spent on this service it should be maintained and, if there are better ways of using it, increase the coverage.

Hampshire County Council say they will axe stop smoking services at 15 venues across Hampshire and stop refunding GP for prescriptions written by them for medication if not accompanied by a referral to Smokefree

All this may cut costs by £300k, but at what cost to other services like GPs who will have to see patients twice before they can prescribe under the scheme. How many people will not take up the Smokefree challange without the help and support of the centres?

Substance and Alcohol Misuse Services

The proposal is to cut service and face-to-face advice. Many people with such problems need easy access to face-to-face advice. They can have difficulty with online usage. Advisers need to be able to see the whole person, have their undivided attention, and pick up on cues in order to have difficult conversations and be sure they have engagement.

The Council proposes to save £120k by closing one of the city treatment hubs. People who need face to face help will have to prebook and travel miles to the next nearest hub.

People with substance abuse issues often need help in an adhoch or urgent way and may relapse if unable to get help quickly. If even a few people do not get the help they need, this can cause:

  • Human misery for them and their families
  • Losing their jobs, costing thousands in lost tax and payments for social support for themselves and their families
  • Ending up in jail, which costs the country thousands of pounds each week




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