The Royal College of Nursing has criticised the government’s proposal to apply a blanket 6.2% reduction to all local councils to achieve £200m public health savings next year, warning it would disproportionately hit residents in the capital.
Applying the cuts evenly would see those living in the most heavily populated areas losing out the most, said the RCN’s London branch.
“These cuts will make health inequalities worse and disproportionately hit harder to reach communities”
Local authorities in the capital are expected to have around 30% less cash on average for each resident, compared to the rest of England as a whole.
London public health budgets would lose £40m overall, with boroughs including Hackney, Lambeth, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Westminster seeing the worst reductions of around £2m each, added the union.
School nursing, health visiting, sexual health, drug and alcohol, weight loss and smoking cessation services are all possible targets for the reductions, which are due to be introduced in January.
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It put forward a series of options, which included applying a larger cut to local councils that have unspent financial reserves from the previous year, or applying the 6.2% reduction except in cases where “particular hardship” would result from this level of cut.
However, the government said its preferred method was to apply the 6.2% across the board to each local authority.
RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue warned that a £40m funding reduction in London would cause more problems for the NHS in the future.
“Already in London we are seeing school nursing posts lost and other preventative health schemes squeezed out,” said Bernell.
“These cuts will make health inequalities worse and disproportionately hit harder to reach communities in inner city boroughs,” he said.
He added: “It is no good claiming to protect the NHS budget but then making huge cuts to local authority services which are there to keep people well and out of hospital.
“The health service will in the long term end up paying for these savings many times over,” he said.