Labour slam 'short-sighted' cuts to sexual health and anti-smoking services
Labour have slammed “short-sighted” cuts to funding for sexual health services and help for people to quit smoking.
New analysis by the party found funding for sexual health, obesity and drug and alcohol services had fallen dramatically since 2013/14.
The findings, obtained from the House of Commons library, found that budgets for anti-smoking services had dropped by 36% between 2013/14 and 2017/18, with a further 22% cut planned for 2018/19.
It means that per head spending on smoking cessation will have dipped from £3.25 to £1.95 if the current budget plans go ahead.
Meanwhile, Labour also found that spending on sexual health advice and prevention and services had dropped by 29% since 2013/14.
And cuts to specialist alcohol and drug misuse services for children and young people had plummeted by a quarter in the previous five years.
Over the same period, budgets for adult obesity expenditure have been slashed by 7%.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth blasted the cuts, saying they failed some of the most vulnerable in society.
“These deep cuts to public services are completely short-sighted and will only lead to wider pressures on the NHS and adult social care services,” he said.
“Minister who boast of their commitment to prevention won’t be taken seriously whilst at the same time cutting vital services that support pregnant mother, help stop smoking or tackle sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.
“Not only are these cuts completely misguided, they also shamefully mean some of the most vulnerable in society are failed again as they go without treatment and support.
He added: “These latest cuts - part of a package of £1 billion worth of cuts to health services next year - must be reversed in the imminent NHS Long Term Plan.
The analysis comes as drug deaths in England and Wales hit an all-time high.
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “We know there’s more to do to improve our public health and reduce pressures on our NHS, which is why we have published a new vision for prevention and are investing over £16 billion in public health through local government.
“Smoking levels are at a record low, and our measures to tackle obesity, such as the Sugar Tax, are working.
“Labour completely failed to tackle obesity when they were in power, and it is clear their spending plans would leave less for our public services.”