Funding for public health teams is “inadequate” and this will make the health inequalities of the pandemic worse, argue York’s Liberal Democrats.
York’s public health funding has dropped from £8.4 million in 2016 to £8.1 million this year – despite the city’s population increasing from 205,645 to 211,234.
Public health teams focus on making sure residents can stay healthy. They run cancer screening services, immunisation programmes, stop smoking and substance misuse centres, and sexual health clinics.
They are also involved in plans to boost exercise, as well as looking at the health impact of major developments and working with charities and other organisations.
York’s public health team has played a key role during the pandemic.
Covid has revealed inequalities across the city and widened the gap between the wealthiest and the most deprived residents, according to a recent report by York Human Rights City.
A Lib Dem spokesperson says money spent on public health is “three to four times more cost-effective in improving health outcomes than money spent in the NHS”.
Cllr Carol Runciman said: “Whilst at national level we have seen huge investment in programmes such as NHS Test and Trace, public health funding for local services continues to be woefully inadequate at a time when protecting and improving the public’s health has never been so important.”
“Our local approach to contact tracing, community testing and outbreak control confirmed what we had known all along – local expertise and approach is the most effective way to combat the spread of the virus.
“Local public health teams must be at the forefront of our efforts to tackle health inequalities and the long term mental and physical health effects of Covid.”