Public health money is ‘put to good use’ says Warwickshire council

Public Health Warwickshire, managed by Warwickshire County Council, took over public health services last year.
Public Health Warwickshire, managed by Warwickshire County Council, took over public health services last year.

Warwickshire’s public health budget is not being misdirected despite pressures to make savings, the county council has said.

Freedom of Information requests put forward by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed that councils across the country are using public health budgets to fund other services. But Warwickshire County Council, which runs Public Health Warwickshire, has insisted that its £21.2 million budget for the past year was spent on health improvement programmes in areas including sexual health, physical activity, healthy eating and stop smoking services.

Local authorities took over responsibility and funding for public health last April. The BMJ said that of the 143 councils out of the 152 in England that responded to its requests, almost a third had cut at least one service, while others had reduced funding to other services.

The publication also raised concerns that a quarter of the councils that responded had not appointed a director of health or had temporary staff fulfilling the role.

But a spokesman for Warwickshire County Council, which has set itself the target of saving £92 million by 2018, said: “In Warwickshire decisions on spending are informed by evidence and prioritised based on needs, following the local democratic process and in line with the Warwickshire Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

“Public Health work closely with the Warwickshire Health and Wellbeing Board, an executive committee of the council, which helps to advise on priorities and joint spend on addressing health inequalities.”

He said discussions are also held with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) - which are made up of family doctors and other health professionals - to help determine how money is allocated.

Warwickshire’s director of public health is Dr John Linnane, who holds a permanent post. He said: “The public health grant is there to help us improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“Warwickshire County Council takes public health very seriously, and this has been reflected in the core purposes of our one organisational plan.”