Dozens of NHS workers are being made redundant after a taxpayer-funded service was axed a year early.
The Healthy Lifestyle service – which targets obesity, drinking and smoking – had been due to continue until 2018.
But Staffordshire County Council has pulled the plug on the contract from next month.
Now 39 workers are to lose their jobs as the NHS tries to find them alternative employment.
Community leaders today hit out at the ‘shortsighted’ decision.
North Staffordshire Healthwatch co-ordinator Ian Syme said: “There is a massive emphasis on prevention and having a healthy lifestyle will benefit health and social care for years.
“This decision will benefit the council in the short term by helping it to balance the books but having a healthy lifestyle will also have medium and long-term benefits.
“It is incredibly shortsighted to scrap the service when it more than pays for itself. The pressure will be placed on the NHS further down the line which is ridiculous when there is an emphasis on prevention.”
The affected workers are employed by Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust
Trust chief executive Stuart Poynor said: “The current contract for Staffordshire’s Healthy Lifestyle service, which is commissioned by Staffordshire County Council, will end in April. As a result 39 members of staff have been served notice of their employment.
“Our primary focus now is to ensure that those staff are fully supported to find alternative employment and that service users continue to receive high-quality support to successfully complete their programmes.”
Council leaders today urged residents to take ‘greater responsibility for their own health and wellbeing’.
County councillor Alan White, cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, said: “People in Staffordshire are living longer, but not necessarily healthier, lives in our county. With less money available, we need people to take greater responsibility for their own health and wellbeing so the council can focus its resources on those that need help the most.”
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