IN HIS latest column for The Correspondent, Andrew Gwynne MP highlights the issues a Government delay in announcing a public health grant could cause Tameside.
IN ADDTION to being the Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish, I also currently sit as the Shadow Public Health Minister.
Part of my job is thinking about ways to reduce health inequalities, and meeting with experts to talk about what politicians can do to tackle health problems like obesity, cancer and mental ill-health.
It’s a really fascinating role, and one I’m proud to hold.
It just isn’t right that in this country at the moment, the poorest people will live – on average – almost a decade less than their wealthier counterparts.
Ultimately, closing this gap is what public health policy is all about.
I’ve been really disappointed, then, by the Government’s delayed announcement of the public health grant.
This yearly grant helps fund essential things like stop smoking and addiction services, as well as early years support.
The delay to the grant announcement means that Tameside Council have been forced to guess how much they’ll be receiving for public health as they finalise their budget for the next financial year.
This is really concerning and puts the health of local people at risk.
If you’re a child growing up in poverty, you often won’t have access to high-quality healthy food.
That makes you – through no fault of your own – likely to develop health problems. Why should government not be stepping in to offer support?
Similarly, if you suffer from mental health or addiction problems, it’s important that you have access to services that give you the support you need to quit.
Not only is this morally right, but practically important too. It’s far more expensive for people to present at A&E to receive treatment, than to prevent them getting acutely ill in the first place.
That’s why I was so concerned to see Conservative members of Tameside Council call for the public health department to be scrapped.
I hope that this call was based on ignorance of what public health actually means, rather than a genuine suggestion.
Scrapping public health initiatives would be nothing short of disastrous for local people, and sever access to services that people rely on across Tameside.
Let’s take public health seriously and build a Britain where no matter where you grow up, you have the opportunity to live a healthy, happy and long life.