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Reverse public health cuts to reduce heart disease deaths, chancellor urged

Monday 29th October 2018
Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged to use the Budget to put more money into public health.
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Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged to use his Budget to reverse cuts to public health programmes, a measure the British Heart Foundation (BHF) believes could help reduce deaths from heart disease.

The appeal, made ahead of Mr Hammond's Budget statement this afternoon (October 29th), was made by a coalition of 14 charities, including the BHF. Known as the Richmond Group, it warned the chancellor that the NHS does not operate "in isolation" and that much of the burden of healthcare is shouldered by other public sector organisations that are struggling to do so because of squeezed budgets.

The open letter sent to Mr Hammond claimed that nine out of ten strokes and between 50 and 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease cases could be prevented by better public education.

It welcomed news that there will be increased investment to come in the NHS, but said that alone "will not deliver the change we need" and that a number of "significant" wider issues are outstanding across the whole health and social care system. 

Commenting on the situation, BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said: “This welcome intervention ahead of the Budget emphasises the absolutely critical role public health measures play in not only reducing the number of deaths from heart and circulatory disease, but also the impact these diseases have on NHS budgets."

He added that a "far-sighted approach to prevention of heart and circulatory disease" is critical, stating that insufficient funding for public health budgets will inhibit "meaningful progress" in reducing the rate of heart deaths in the UK.

Prime minister Theresa May recently said the end of austerity was coming, but Mr Hammond was coy on suggestions that this could be reflected in the current Budget in an interview for the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

He said the "rewards" of the sacrifices people had been forced to make are now "in sight", but stated that details would not emerge until next year's spending review.

BBC political editor Norman Smith tweeted that this amounted to him pouring a "bucket" of cold water over Mrs May's words.

Mr Hammond said he would also have to revise his Budget if there was a no-deal Brexit.

Written by Matthew Horton

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