Valerie raises concerns over Walsall’s Public Health Funding ahead of World Diabetes Day

I have written to the Health Secretary over cuts to Walsall’s Public Health budget. World Diabetes Day is on 14 November 2015 and I recently joined actor Chizzy Akudolu from the BBC’s Holby City to raise awareness of diabetes, a major public health issue.

There is growing concern in Walsall about the £1.6 million shortfall in public health funding. Under the current allocation, Walsall’s public health budget is already underfunded. The proposed reduction in funding will be a double hit on top of existing inequalities and will have a serious detrimental effect on public health in Walsall. If Walsall’s allocation was the same as neighbouring authorities with similar levels of deprivation, Walsall would receive an additional £4.26 million per year.

In my letter to the Secretary State for Health, I asked him to consider increasing Walsall’s public health budget as Walsall is number 35 on the list of the most deprived local authority areas in England, but will have the least funding per head of any authority in the Birmingham and Black Country area under the proposed arrangement.

Public health funding is intended to support people in protecting and improving their own health. Recent figures from Public Health England show that the health of people in Walsall is generally worse than the average in England. 68.9% of adults are considered overweight or obese and 8.6% of people registered with a GP have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes has a wide ranging impact on people’s lives and its potential complications include heart disease and strokes. Ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14 November 2015 I met Chizzy Akudolu at the House of Commons at an event organised by the SiverStar Diabetes charity to raise awareness of diabetes in Walsall South. There were nurses and a medical advisor at the event who were able to give advice on healthy lifestyles. This is a useful opportunity as the onset of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by a healthy lifestyle.

Preventing diseases such as diabetes has the potential to save money for the NHS in the long term. Walsall’s Public Health Profile is significantly worse than the national average. Walsall needs its fair share of public health funding to tackle this inequality.