Fears for health services as summer budget cuts on way

A CITY health watchdog has warned that services will suffer if council budget cuts go ahead as planned.

Hull-based LINk, which acts as a voice for members of the public over local health services, is facing losing nearly 70 per cent of its funding, when Government grants cease this April.

Dozens of other community groups are also in the firing line as Hull Council faces 50m cuts. Link's budget for next year of around 171,000 will be reduced by 123,000 if the proposals are accepted at a council budget-setting meeting on February 24.

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Dave Rogers, chief officer at Hull CVS, which is the host organisation for the Link, said the cuts would mean most of its work stopping. The watchdog has the legal power to call for improvements in NHS services and over the past year has produced reports on eating disorders, alcohol, patient transport and mental health services for young people.

Mr Rogers said: "If the budget next year is 48,000 there are implications. Most of that (the reports) is going to have to stop because there simply won't be enough resources to do it.

"It is ironic really because the Government is saying how very keen they are on Links and in the Health White Paper, which is going to become a Bill this week, they are saying they like what Links have done and want to develop them into local Healthwatches – but at the same time they are not providing local authorities with the resources to do that."

Hull Council says 39m of grants that were given for specific purposes by the Government have been withdrawn and it only has 9m to reinvest.

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The Labour Group is pressing for a detailed breakdown on how that will affect numerous organisations.

Groups supporting vulnerable people, including those with learning disabilities, are also in the firing line.

Labour Group leader Steve Brady said some groups would be forced to close, adding: "There will be people up and down the city screaming and shouting about it – and behind that there's a lot of vulnerable people who are going to be affected."

Council leader Carl Minns said he expected the 9m to rise as they talked to the Government and no final decisions had been made, adding: "We are not going to end all the spending overnight. We can't – it's a false economy."