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Healthcare prevention plan worthy, but funding an issue

07 November 2018

"This announcement represents an opportunity to address and reverse the damage that cuts to both health and local government budgets have caused to prevention services", he said.

The plans argue for a shift towards primary and community care services, to look at the early support they can offer people in preventing bad health taking hold.

He said: "As well as the rights we have as citizens to access NHS services free at the point of use, we all have responsibilities too".

More detail is promised next year but a "vision document" today highlights "predictive prevention" as an important new element of public health.

"The combination of prevention and predictive medicine have more than twice the impact on the length of healthy life", he said.

"Over the course of our lives, our first and most frequent interactions with health and social care services are likely to be with our GP, school nurse, dentist, local pharmacist, social worker, health visitor or midwife", the DH said.

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He said: "Whilst the Health Secretary's focus on prevention is a step in the right direction it does not take into account the thousands of people living with long-term health conditions right now".

The health secretary suggested that members of the public should "look after themselves better" by staying active, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption.

The UK is now spending £97bn from the public purse on treating disease but just £8bn on preventing it, Mr Hancock is expected to tell the meeting during his keynote speech.

Mr Hancock added the "numbers don't stack up" when it comes to spending on prevention as opposed to treatment.

He said: "He asked about the economic causes of ill health".

The plan also includes targets to halve childhood obesity by 2030, reduce loneliness, diagnose 75% of stage one and two cancers by 2028 and using technology to predict patients' illnesses and target advice at sections of the population.

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Her words came after Chancellor Philip Hammond found an extra £20.5 billion to fund the NHS over the next five years.

"That's why prevention matters".

Helen Donovan, professional lead for public health at the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Matt Hancock must realise his plans will start at a disadvantage as local authorities struggle with planned cuts to public health budgets of nearly 4% per year until 2021."Disadvantaged areas emerge worse off without these vital services, with life expectancy and the poorest bearing the brunt of underinvestment in public health".

Investing in prevention is the smartest thing we can do.

Helen Donovan, from the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed Mr Hancock's plans but urged serious investment at a local level to back them up.

And Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said the plans follow "years of cuts and failed privatisation".

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Healthcare prevention plan worthy, but funding an issue