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The Richmond Group of Charities, 14 of the leading health and social care organisations in the voluntary sector, have united behind a call to reverse cuts made to public health funding.

Today King’s Fund and The Health Foundation have asked the government to commit to restoring £1 billion of real-terms per head cuts to the public health grant to protect spending on areas like sexual health, stop smoking services and specialist drug and alcohol programmes for young people.

The 14 member organisations represent the more than 15 million people in the UK living with long-term physical and mental health conditions, many of whom manage more than one condition.

Chris Askew, Chair of the Richmond Group of Charities said:

“The Richmond Group of Charities has long called on the government to focus on prevention to improve health and wellbeing.

“The government must take decisive action and deliver an ambitious funding package that sets our nation’s health on the right path. 

“Our health, social care and public health systems sink or swim together: unless they are all funded appropriately, they risk collapsing altogether.

“That is why we are supporting this call for investment: we cannot afford not to”.

Supporting people to live the healthiest and happiest lives they possibly can must be about reducing the chances of getting ill, preventing health worsening or deteriorating, as well as helping those who are managing a health condition to have the best quality of life possible.

We know that the work of ‘prevention’ cannot be done by one agency alone. For example, the environment, working conditions, education, transport, welfare and housing all play a significant role; a cross-government approach is required. Reversing the cuts to public health funding will play an essential part in a health and care system that improves our health and wellbeing, doing more to create an environment that gives people access to healthy options in relation to things like physical activity, diet, smoking and alcohol.

We all know why this matters. Preventable long-term conditions impact on almost every aspect of someone’s life – our mental health, our relationships, our ability to work, our ability to get out and about. It also places unnecessary demands on our health service.  We know that 9 out of 10 strokes, between 50 and 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease cases, 4 in 10 cancers and nearly a third of dementia cases are preventable and 40 per cent of NHS activity is spent on preventable disease.  

We also know that where you live makes a difference.  It is unacceptable that people in our more deprived communities live 16 years less than in more affluent areas, and on average develop multiple conditions 10-15 years earlier. We must end these stark inequalities across our population’s health.

The recent NHS Long Term Plan provides a lot to build on, and we hope the forthcoming Prevention Green Paper will also be ambitious in its scope, with sufficient backing in resource and focus to deliver the change we vitally need.  We in the voluntary sector are ready to play our part; tackling prevention cannot be done in isolation.