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Government has failed to invest in public health and prevention claims RSPH chief

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: May 16, 2017 | UPDATED: May 16, 2017

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Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, has criticised the government for its failure to invest in public health and the prevention agenda following publication of a damning select committee report on the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

Some 18 months after the publication of the NHS Five-Year Forward View which promised a “radical upgrade in prevention and public health” and 15 years after the Wanless Review warned that avoidable illness would swamp the health system if prevention was not taken seriously, a Lords inquiry revealed “endemic short-termism in almost every area of policy making.”

“We heard repeated concerns that the NHS was still failing on public health and prevention,” said the inquiry’s report which can be found here https://goo.gl/14K0XM

“The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges expressed disappointment at the progress made on the Forward View’s ambition on prevention: ‘Almost two years after the publication of the Five Year Forward View, there appears to have been little meaningful development; the ‘radical upgrade in prevention’ has failed to materialise.’

“The lack of progress on prevention was evident in the scale of the burden of some of the key public health issues that witnesses reported.”

The report highlighted that smoking and harmful levels of drinking in the UK was above the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average and progress in addressing health inequalities and the social determinants of poor health was “stalling.”

The report also outlined the government’s failure to “instigate firm action” on obesity which costs the NHS £5.1 billion a year. That, it said, “was particularly evident in the government’s recent action on the childhood obesity strategy.”

Cramer did not pull her punches, describing the government’s approach to public health and prevention as short-sighted.

“Continued failure to invest in public health and prevention absolutely epitomises the short-sightedness highlighted by the committee. It is obvious that, whatever is done in terms of NHS structures, our health service will prove fundamentally unsustainable in the long-term if we do not act now to reduce the burden of preventable disease,” she said.

“The committee is right, especially, to highlight obesity as the prime public health challenge of our time, one which will lead to an increase in conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and various cancers, under the weight of which the NHS will surely buckle if radical action is not taken to avert the crisis.”


Pictured: A placard is held up criticising the government during a protest against cuts to NHS funding in London last month.