Health secretary unveils plans for greater focus on ill health prevention

Keyhole surgery is now a common NHS procedure

Keyhole surgery is now a common NHS procedure

Dr Peter English, BMA public health committee chairman, said: "While the plans outlined in this paper are a welcome step, the government must be realistic about what must be required in order to deliver this".

"We need to see a radical shift in how the NHS sees itself, from a hospital service for the ill to a nationwide service to keep us healthy, and where those who work on the frontline of the NHS - including Global Positioning System that are at its bedrock - feel confident to remind people of their responsibilities too".

"It can't be right that today, in England, a boy born in the poorest parts of our country will die nine years earlier, and live 19 more years in poor health, than a boy born in the richest areas".

People will be encouraged to take more responsibility for managing their own health, as part of the Government's latest NHS strategy focusing on prevention.

"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", he said.

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".

"Community pharmacies are ideally placed to help people to stay healthy and avoid visits to hospital - and look forward to working with the government to make this shared vision a reality".

Mr Hancock will add: "In the United Kingdom, we are spending £97bn of public money on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it across the UK".

The Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP said: "If he's serious about supporting healthy choices surely he must bring to an end the free for all that sees supermarkets encouraging alcohol consumption and ludicrously discounted prices".

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

The Government's ambitions to improve public health include reducing loneliness, halving childhood obesity by 2030 and diagnosing three quarters of cancers at stages 1 and 2 by 2028.

"That's why prevention matters".

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.

Investing in prevention is the smartest thing we can do.

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".

"Unless ministers reverse these cuts and start fully funding public health services, these announcements will be dismissed as a litany of hollow promises", he added.

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