NHS long-term plan focuses on preventive health and genomics

Desiree Burns
November 7, 2018

According to Hancock, prevention will be at the heart of the NHS long-term plan, and will use new approaches like predictive prevention, which will explore how digital technology can be used to offer individuals precise and targeted health advice in the community.

He is expected to say 10 times more money is spent on treating disease than prevention - which "doesn't stack up".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivers keynote speech at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes on 5 November 2018.

"Many of the aims announced today are laudable but the reality is now a further £1bn worth of cuts to health services including public health are set to be imposed by this Government next year".

It goes on to say that the health and social care services need to fundamentally change to allow this to happen, and society as a whole has to get involved, for example bosses should do more to encourage their workers to stay healthy, local government should help encourage walking and cycling, and schools working more closely with mental health services to help young people stay mentally well. United Kingdom life expectancy is now 82.9 years for women, and 79.2 for men. "Making better choices by limiting alcohol, sugar, salt and fat", he said. "If you don't know if you're going to work tomorrow, an apple's not going to do it".

That was the view of health groups as they responded to a government policy paper that argued that prevention would form an "integral" part of the forthcoming long-term plan for the NHS.

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"In the United Kingdom, we are spending £97bn of public money on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it across the United Kingdom", he said. "Being told what to do by a government minister?' But if I say, 'If you have a particular problem with your B12 because of what your genome says, or what your genes say", then you are much more likely ... you'll be eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner".

The DH has committed to publish the first ever green paper on prevention in the first half of next year, which "will set out our plans in more detail".

The latest NHS strategy comes just days after the Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £20.5bn to fund the health service over the next five years.

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.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour's Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: "The Tories have imposed swingeing cuts to public health services, slashing vital prevention support such as smoking cessation services, sexual health services, substance misuse services and obesity help".

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