The narrative in the agenda papers stated that several of the budget lines are set to save money due to contract renegotiation. I asked for assurances that this meant only a renegotiated contract and not a reduction in service. Mr Brown confirmed that there would be no service reductions in those areas.
However, due to budgetary pressures in 0-5 children’s services, the contract currently managed by Virgin Care, it is anticipated that there will be a loss of 30 health visitor staff, due to ‘natural wastage’ (staff leaving and not being replaced), in the next financial year 18/19.
County council funded mental health support in schools set to be lost
A cut of £223,000 to the public mental health in schools budget could mean that county council funded emotional health and wellbeing service in schools will be scrapped, it was also revealed at last
When I enquired, Mr Brown confirmed that the contract for the service was coming to an end and his department was searching for a new provider. He said it was a really valued service and if further efficiency savings could be made elsewhere, this service would be top of the list for funding.
I was completely dismayed at what I was hearing, given that anxiety and depression among young people is rocketing.
I proposed that the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee relay its grave concerns to Devon County Council’s cabinet about the impact of the cuts on the public health budget. In particular, the loss of 30 public health visitors and the potential significant impact on young people the cut of £223,000 to public mental health budget, especially at a time when anxiety and depression among young people is rising.
I also proposed that the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee writes to all Devon MPs, asking them to take up the issue with the Secretary of State for Health.
Another proposal from the chair on continuing the push for fairer funding for public health in Devon was also put forward.
All recommendations were supported unanimously.
You can view the speaker-itemised webcast here – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/315014
Pic: Steve Brown addresses the committee, with deputy county treasurer, Angie Sinclair (left).