READING Borough Council is proposing changes to the way its 2018-19 public health budget is distributed, to ensure it continues to deliver key health priorities and help the people who need it the most.
The proposals would provide funding towards services that were previously at risk, such as stopping smoking services, healthy weight management and some drug and alcohol support, as well as devising new ways of working to deliver these services in future.
A report going before the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday 29th October, outlines the suggested changes and seeks approval to launch a nine week public consultation from 1st November 2018 to help inform future decisions for public health services in 2019/20.
The proposed changes reflect the financial pressures faced by the Council and the 2.5% reduction of the national public health grant, whilst addressing the priority health and wellbeing issues for Reading and its key health inequalities.
The total public health budget for 2018-19, agreed in April 2018, has not changed. The changes will mean a transfer of some funding from some services into smoking cessation, weight management and drug and alcohol services.
The re-profiled budget ensures that services to support smoking cessation will continue to meet local need. Services will be offered at a reduced and more sustainable cost.
The re-profiled budget will ensure that there is a child and adult weight management service after October 2018, albeit reduced. This will facilitate a managed transition to a new service offer which integrates smoking cessation support with other support to maintain healthy lifestyle choices, and has a greater focus on digital delivery.
Officers are working in partnership to transform some services, one example being with the local provider of Public Health Nursing services to ensure that we have the best services possible for children and young people. Longer term, the Council will look for an extensive review of the services and consider options for joint procurement with neighbouring authorities.
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Public Health, said:
“Our latest public health budget proposals address the changes necessary in order to take account of the national public health grant reduction and big and ongoing Government cuts to the Council’s funding.
“We listened to concerns expressed about the proposed reduction in funding for stop smoking support, drug and alcohol support and healthy weight management, and we have acted accordingly to protect these services as far as possible in the near future. Moving forward, we will have to look at new ways of working in order to keep these services sustainable in the long term.
“These are difficult times, where difficult decisions have to be made. However, every effort has been made to ensure that the impact of funding reduction will be felt least in the communities where health initiatives are needed the most.
“Our plans include reduced spending where demand has fallen and targeting services to specific populations in need of health initiatives. We will be delivering public health initiatives in different ways such providing support online, by joining up our commissioning with neighbouring partners and by re-allocating our funding across other Council teams to meet public health outcomes.”
The report sets out how public health services will be delivered from a reduced budget going forward, achieved by:
· Targeting specific groups in order to reach people who will most likely benefit from services, such as the NHS Healthcheck programme;
· Ensuring drug and alcohol services reach those that need them most;
· Re-designing services for children 0-19;
· Devising new ways of working; for example, digitisation, and online access where it is likely to be successful. This will focus on stop smoking services in the first instance and include healthy weight in future;
· Designing an integrated health and wellness service;
· Exploring options for more partnership working and joint commissioning across the region;
· Reducing some demand led services, such as sexual health services, in line with the previous year’s demand for services;
· Reviewing contracts and negotiating new contracts.
The full report to Policy can be viewed here: www.reading.gov.uk/article/11451/Policy-Committee-29-OCT-2018
The full Policy report setting out the Public Health Budget in April can be viewed here: www.reading.gov.uk/article/10624/Policy-Committee-9-APR-2018
In 2018-19, there is a reduction of £258,000 in the central grant from Public Health England received by Reading Borough Council, taking the local authority’s income from this source down to £9,758,000. This allocation will be further reduced in subsequent years. The Council’s income from other sources is also reducing whilst demand pressures are increasing.
Reading’s Health Priorities
A series of health and wellbeing priorities for Reading were identified and endorsed by stakeholders as part of the development of Reading’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2017-20. These are:
– Supporting people to make healthy lifestyle choices (with a focus on tooth decay, smoking, obesity and physical activity)
– Reducing loneliness and social isolation
– Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in children and young people
– Reducing deaths by suicide
– Reducing the amount of alcohol people drink to safe levels
– Making Reading a place where people can live well with dementia
– Increasing breast and bowel screening and prevention services
– Reducing the number of people with tuberculosis