READING Borough Council is proposing changes to the way it allocates public health spending to ensure it continues to help the people who need it the most.
A 2.5% reduction of the national public health grant means the Council is re-organising the public health budget for 18/19 as part of a wider strategy to be considered by the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday April 9.
Under the proposals, the Council will continue to fund a number of prioritised services to ensure that services to the most vulnerable groups have been protected. Examples include:
· The nursing service for children aged 0-19 years
· Children’s Primary Mental Health Worker
· Healthy start vitamins for infants
· Homelessness support to vulnerable households
· Open Access drug treatment
· Needle supplies and needle exchange waste
The total savings the Council needs to achieve however, including grant reductions, amounts to £1,072,000.
A number of the proposed savings will be achieved by services being provided in different ways. Some services will be scaled back due to falls in demand or by a higher than anticipated performance (which mean that the local need has reduced) and through targeting services to reach those who need it most.
· Smoking Cessation – in future the service will be targeted at specific groups where smoking prevalence is rising, such as smoking amongst those in manual occupations. There will also be internet based advice and support for people to stop smoking.
· Health Checks – an example of a demand led service, currently available to anyone between the ages of 40 and 74, but with low take up. This will now be targeted at people who have been identified as most likely to be at risk of health complications.
· Sexual Health Services – a demand led service. Budgets have been adjusted to reflect demand in previous years.
· Weight Management – both the children’s and adults’ courses will continue for the next six months and will be reviewed after this date. There will also be provision of online advice for weight management.
The proposals also outline a re-allocation of public health funding totalling £700k which would be distributed across other Council departments contributing to public health outcomes. This will be in addition to the £779,000 which is already funded in other directorates on public health outcomes from the previous year’s budget.
Examples of this include:
· Falls Prevention: £40,000. Equipment will help maintain independence in older people. If the incidence of falls is reduced it will avoid the potential cost to both health and social care.
· Mental Health Recovery College: £83,000. The service assists people identified with mental health needs to recover to the best of their ability and to maintain positive mental health.
· Health related quality of life for older people (Narrowing the Gap): £107,000. A range of preventive services in the voluntary sector aimed at older people.
The total savings the Council needs to achieve of £1,072,000 includes previously agreed savings of £219,000, combined with savings of £375,000 (to meet the public health grant reductions) and £478,000 of new savings.
The full Policy report can be viewed here: www.reading.gov.uk/article/10624/Policy-Committee-9-APR-2018
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Public Health, said:
“The Public Health Budget proposals set out the necessary changes needed in order to take account of the national public health grant reduction.
“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. For example, protecting children and young people’s health and ensuring homelessness support is available to vulnerable households.
“Proposals also include reduced spending where demand has fallen and targeting services to specific populations in need of health initiatives, such as in the supply of smoking cessation services. We will be delivering public health initiatives in different ways, such providing support online and by re-allocating our funding across other council teams to meet public health outcomes.”
Reading’s Public Health ring fenced grant allocation for 2018/19 will be £9,758,000, which represents a reduction of £258,000 on the grant for 2017-18 of £10,016,000.
Re-allocation of Public Health Funding across directorates:
– Pupil Absence 100k. Concentrates on children and young people with poor attendance and contributes to reducing the risk of teenage pregnancy and drug and alcohol use and entry into the youth justice system.
NEET: age 16 – 18 50k. Contributes to the improvement of mental health in young people.
– People with mental health needs or who have learning disability in settled accommodation 80k.
– Sickness absence rate of staff 8k.
– Statutory homelessness 172k. The reduction of the numbers of statutory homeless households in temporary accommodation.
– Primary mental health worker for children 60k. Focus on improving wellbeing, preventing self-harm and suicide.
– Falls Prevention: equipment 40k. Falls prevention equipment will maintain independence in older people.
– Mental Health Recovery College 83k. The service assists people identified with mental health needs to recover to the best of their ability.
– Health Related Quality of Life for older people (Narrowing the Gap) £107. A range of preventive services in the voluntary sector aimed at older people.