Vital frontline health services are at risk due to a lack of certainty over public health funding for councils, local authority leaders have warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged the government to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations that councils will receive from April.
The LGA has warned that time is ‘running out’ for councils to make critical decisions on contract renewals for public health services, including for health visits, sexual and reproductive health and suicide prevention.
Local authority health departments are also coming under increased pressure because of Omicron, the LGA added.
“The demand for life-saving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, mental health and children’s health is growing and at risk of going unmet, as we continue to grapple with the impact of the Omicron push,” said Cllr David Fothergill, chair of the LGA Community Wellbeing Council.
“The unprecedented mental and physical health toll of the pandemic means we could see many more people seeking help, on top of an existing backlog that has built up over the past two years.
“It is wrong that we are still in the dark about how much to spend on this essential treatment and support, which will better protect our population against future pandemics.
“The government should act now and release the councils’ public health grant without further delay, so that we can continue to plan ahead for an anticipated surge in post-COVID aid requests.”
In response to the LGA’s appeal, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We understand that local authorities need certainty to plan for the vital public health services they provide. Public health grant allocations for 2022/23 will be confirmed shortly.