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

Department of Health and Social Care has launched a vision document, ‘Prevention is better than cure’, outlining the government’s approach to prevention, with a marked shift in focus to primary and community care.

The document also talks of adopting new approaches like predictive prevention which uses digital technology to provide precise and targeted health advice to individuals.

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).

As part of the prevention plans, the government will hold a consultation next year to encourage employers to support more disabled people into work, and to improve access to occupational health.

Specialist mental health services will be increased to a further 30,000 women during pregnancy and during the first year after they have given birth by 2020 to 2021.

It also builds on the government’s previous work in areas such as childhood obesity and social prescribing, aiming to reduce childhood obesity by half by 2030 and making social prescribing available in every local area by 2023.

Two other major plans include diagnosing 75 percent of cancers at stages 1 and 2 by 2028 and sequencing 5 million genomes in 5 years, and offering whole-genome sequencing to all seriously ill children and those with cancer by 2019, as well as adults with rare diseases or cancers.

Matt Hancock said: “In the UK, we are spending £97 billion of public money on treating disease and only £8 billion preventing it across the UK. You don’t have to be an economist to see those numbers don’t stack up.

“A focus on prevention and predictive medicine isn’t just the difference between life and death, it’s the difference between spending the last 20 years of your life fit and active, or in constant pain from a chronic condition. So our focus must shift from treating single acute illnesses to promoting the health of the whole individual. That requires more resources for prevention.”

Plans needs investment, says RPS England

Commenting on the document, Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England Board, said the vision “need to be matched by appropriate investment” by the government, particularly in the backdrop of “continued pressure on local authority budgets and cuts to public health services.”

Gidley also demanded more support for pharmacies in the execution of the plans.

“The Government’s publication today rightly recognises the key role of Healthy Living Pharmacies in offering accessible lifestyle advice or stop smoking services, but as we ask pharmacists to do more the resources, support and training also need to follow suit,” she said.

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