Matt Hancock hails health prevention based on your class and location

Alicia Farmer
November 7, 2018

In the paper - 'Prevention is better than cure' - health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced the government would put "greater focus" on prevention but acknowledged this wasn't a job for the health and care sectors alone.

"Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people ... dishing out drugs when it isn't what's best for the patient and it won't solve their problem".

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

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".

Matt Hancock, speaking to the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, spoke about a major push for prevention, and said that people should "take more care of their own health".

"If he says that inequality has an impact on ill health then he should probably welcome the fall in inequality we have seen under this Government".

"Making better choices by limiting alcohol, sugar, salt and fat".

There's also a strong emphasis on people taking responsibility after their own health and receiving care in the community rather than hospital, all in the hope of "slowing the growth in demands on the NHS and making it sustainable for future generations", says the document, "whilst closing the gap between the richest and poorest". Its chief executive, Niall Dickson, said that this could be a "seminal moment" for the United Kingdom - provided the ambition is "backed by action and resources".

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She 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".

"That's why prevention matters".

It comes after last week's Budget, when Chancellor Philip Hammond promised an extra £20.5bn for the NHS over the next five years.

Investing in prevention is the smartest thing we can do.

Public Health England will look 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.

His plans include increasing specialist mental health services to a further 30,000 women during and post pregnancy by 2020 to 2021, halving childhood obesity, diagnosing 75% of cancers at stages 1 and 2 by 2028, and offering whole-genome sequencing to all seriously ill children and those with cancer by 2019.

Helen Donovan, from the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the plans but said they needed to be backed up with serious investments.

"In local communities, years of cuts and failed privatisation have resulted in health visitor and school nurse numbers falling, whilst children are losing out on the key early years health interventions they need".

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