Healthcare prevention plan worthy, but funding an issue

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock at his office in Parliament London

"Only with better prevention can our NHS be sustainable for the long term", he said.

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.

As part of this, it will "encourage more people to make the most of their local pharmacy" and will push for "local pharmacies to play a strong role in helping people stay well in the community", it said in its document.

Hancock told the health conference that encouraging people to take "greater responsibility" for taking the strain off the NHS by cutting down how much they eat and drink.

Hancock wants to shift the balance by getting people to take more responsibility for their health.

"It's about people choosing to look after themselves better", he said.

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".

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

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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".

Matt Hancock said: "In the United Kingdom, we are spending £97 billion of public money on treating disease and only £8 billion preventing it across the UK".

"But Matt Hancock must realise his plans will start at a disadvantage as local authorities struggle with planned cuts to public health budgets of nearly four per cent per year until 2021".

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

Health Secretary Matt Hancock delved on the topic in detail during his address to the annual meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes today (5 November).

The shift towards prevention has also been praised by the Royal College of Nursing, which reiterated the call for serious investment at a local level.

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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