Primary care trusts will spend less than a third of their Choosing Health funding on the public health problems it was intended to tackle, a survey has revealed.
The Association of Directors of Public Health survey found just 28 per cent of 2007-08 funding is likely to be spent on Choosing Health measures such as reducing obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption and improving sexual health.
Last year, 33 per cent of the funds were spent as intended, although the pot of money was smaller. The other 67 per cent was spent on other things, most commonly PCT deficits. Half of PCTs diverted away 80 per cent or more of the Choosing Health white paper cash. Less than 10 per cent spent the full allocation.
Association president Dr Tim Crayford said: 'Although the initial commitment to identify some new NHS funds for public health was welcomed, it does not appear to have been followed through.' London public health observatory director Dr Bobbie Jacobson, said the comprehensive spending review settlement meant there should be no need to raid public health budgets.
'As the CSR has taken the advice of Sir Derek Wanless [in his King's Fund report on NHS funding] to give an above-average settlement, there should be no excuse to use that resource on anything other than public health.'
Faculty of Public Health president Dr Alan Maryon-Davis said the survey results 'fly in the face of what the secretary of state is saying about reducing health inequalities and tackling chronic disease'.
'These are very disturbing findings. How can public health directors at a local level co-ordinate prevention if their budgets are raided?' he said.
'I suspect the money is still finding its way into acute services through choice and payment by results.'
Choosing Health funding 2006-07
Yorkshire and the Humber
East of England
South East Coast