Medicine

BMA calls for ‘tougher action’ on preventable ill health

BMA calls for ‘tougher action’ on preventable ill health

Mr Hancock also suggested that employers need to "check in on people" when they take sick leave, and "make sure they are getting the treatment they need".

Helen Donovan, Professional Lead for Public Health at the Royal College of Nursing, said: "We welcome the fact that the Health Secretary is making prevention a priority, and clearly recognises that a focus on public health will keep people healthier for longer and save the NHS money and resources in the long run".

But he will say the strategy is "not about penalising people".

People will be encouraged to take greater responsibility for managing their own health, under new plans that will see NHS strategy focus more on prevention.

"It's about people choosing to look after themselves better, staying active and stopping smoking".

While he did not reveal how the extra funds will be allocated, Mr Hancock said "in practice" the DH's new prevention vision will require "greater funding for pre-primary, primary and community care - and support for the staff who work in these services".

The UK now spends £97 billion of public money on treating disease and only £8 billion preventing it, something Hancock says just "doesn't stack up".

In a keynote speech in London, he promised a greater proportion of the £20 billion a year increase for the NHS in England announced by Prime Minister Theresa May would go to primary and community care.

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But she also stressed that it is "not only hospitals that are feeling the strain and we urgently need greater investment in general practice - both extra funding and additional numbers of Global Positioning System and other healthcare professionals - before we can take on the responsibility of caring for and supporting even greater numbers of patients".

"You don't have to be an economist to see those numbers don't stack up".

Public Health England is looking at "harnessing digital technology" as a form of "predictive prevention", potentially leading to targeted health advice for people based on their their location and lifestyle.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, also welcomed the green paper, but said that it must be backed by real action to make "prevention a central pillar of the long-term plan for the NHS".

The health secretary has refused to be drawn on how much of the extra £20 billion earmarked for the NHS would be spent on preventative measures.

"There is a need to reserve the cuts to public health budgets, as in many areas, public health services do not adequately meet the health needs of the local population".

Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said while the plans are "laudable", they follow "years of cuts and failed privatisation".