READING Borough Council is consulting on the provision of public health services over the next two years, to ensure it focuses on the health and wellbeing issues that are most important to the people of Reading.
Continuing to provide public health services which support healthy, independent living, such as stop smoking, healthy weight support, school nursing and sexual health services, is becoming increasingly challenging for the Council.
Government funding for Reading will have been reduced from nearly £55 million between 2010 and 2020, leaving the Council with a grant of under £3 million.
The Council is reviewing how it uses the funding to make sure it is as efficient as possible and addresses the priority health issues for Reading.
The Council is considering providing some public health support in different ways in future. This could include:
· Combining support to lead healthier lifestyles in several ways – for example, one service to help people quit smoking, eat well, be physically active and in good emotional health;
· Opportunities to offer more people support to help themselves by providing services digitally;
· Strengthening partnership working to commission services delivered with other organisations.
In order to inform the decision taken for Reading’s Public Health Budget for 2019/20 and 2020/21, the Council would like to hear from residents, organisations and partners on the approach to supporting health and wellbeing, and the proposed changes to how the funding is used. This will help the Council to focus on what areas are most important to the people of Reading.
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Public Health, said: “With big and ongoing government cuts to the Council’s funding 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 looking into our options to deliver public health initiatives in different ways, such as 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.
“This consultation is a chance for people to influence the way we deliver public health services over the next two years and I encourage people to have their say. The consultation launched on 1st November and will be available until 6th January.”
This Public Health consultation runs from Thursday 1st November 2018 to Sunday 6th January 2019. A report on the response to this consultation will be presented to the Council’s Policy Committee on 18th February 2019.
There will be a Public Consultation event on Tuesday 18th December, from 10:30 am to 12:30pm, at Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) Global Café, 35-39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS.
The consultation is available online at: www.reading.gov.uk/publichealthgrantconsultation
To receive a hard copy of the questionnaire or for additional support to understand or complete the questionnaire, write to: Wellbeing Team, Level 2, Civic Centre, Reading RG1 2LU; call 0118 937 2383 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A report at the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday 29th October, received approval to launch a the nine week public consultation to help inform future decisions for public health services in 2019/20. 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