PUBLIC health funding per head in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has been cut by a quarter over six years in real terms, analysis reveals.

Health leaders and charities have urged the Government to increase spending after figures showed England’s public health grant has fallen by around £1 billion in real terms since 2015-16.

This central funding is given to local authorities to deliver vital preventative and treatment services, such as help to stop smoking, children’s health services and sexual health clinics.

Analysis by the Health Foundation shows BCP Council was allocated £19.9 million through the public health grant for 2021-22 – equating to around £56 for every resident under the age of 75.

However, this was 24 per cent less than in 2015-16, when it received £74 per head in real terms.

Analysis by the Health Foundation found funding for stop smoking services and tobacco control has been cut by about a third – the greatest real-terms fall.

Funding for drug and alcohol services has been cut 17 per cent in real terms, while sexual health services have seen a real-terms fall of 14 per cent, with only child obesity services seeing an increase.

It found that more deprived areas have disproportionately borne the brunt of the cut, despite people in these areas generally having poorer health.

Sam Crowe, director of Public Health for Dorset Council and BCP Council, said: “The reduction in public health grant dates back to 2015 when the Treasury sought to make adjustments to public health funding. As a result of this, Public Health Dorset has been working through a planned programme to find efficiencies whilst minimising the impact on services.

“We have largely avoided cuts to services and have achieved savings by retendering public health contracts, making efficiencies and reducing the overall cost of services. On the whole, this has meant we’ve been able to continue to deliver these services to Dorset residents at a similar level of provision. This includes sexual health and drug and alcohol services as well as wider prevention programmes.

"We’ve also taken the opportunity to look at alternative methods of delivering some of our programmes. For example, our LiveWell Dorset service has been able to support many more people to make healthier lifestyle choices through online and telephone services.

“There are a number of pressures on local government funding and we have had to play our part in finding savings. Public Health Dorset provides a shared public health service across both Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council which helps to keep costs down whilst providing a consistent service across the county.

“Investment in public health services means we can help prevent the build-up of health and wellbeing problems in the longer term, so we would always support sufficient funding for the sector. Effective public health services can help reduce pressure and costs for the wider health and care system, and we continue to work with NHS and local authority partners across the Dorset Integrated Care System as well as the community and voluntary sector to deliver prevention programmes to support residents to lead healthier lives for as long as possible.”