Why local public health budgets must be better protected – The Yorkshire Post says

AS BORIS Johnson continues to set out national parameters for the easing of lockdown, it will largely fall on local authority public health departments to enforce these changes.

Local authorities have a key role to play when it comes to public health following the Covid pandemic, but do they have sufficient resources?

Unheralded and, in many cases, under-funded, prior to the Covid pandemic, these staff are now integral to the country’s ability to gradually reopen and tackle other societal issues like obesity.

And that will need to be recognised by the Prime Minister as Britain prepares for the next phase of the recovery; town halls will need specific guidance on their duties in this field rather than a ‘hope for the best’ approach to policy.

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This is too urgent to be left to the much-promised public inquiry into Covid; a responsible government would be defining the role of local public health staff in the current climate and making sure the resources are available.

Local authorities have a key role to play in Covid testing and wider public health.

Equally, Labour should not be given a ‘free pass’ after citing cuts to public health funding areas like Bradford, Barnsley and Sheffield as part of its campaign for the forthcoming Hartlepool by-election.

One reason why Sir Keir Starmer is facing such an uphill struggle a year after becoming Labour leader is because his party’s default response to any issue is to criticise the Government, and demand that more money is spent, without actually saying how it would fund a growing wishlist in the midst of such a deep economic slump.

What is clear, however, is that public health is too important to be left to party politics – this whole area of policy needs far more prominence if Britain is to adapt to living and working with Covid.

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