William Eichler 04 June 2019

Over half of the disease burden in England ‘preventable’

Local authority leaders have welcomed a report which urges the Government to increase investment into initiatives supporting public health.

A new report from the think tank IPPR argues that progress on preventing ill health has ‘hit a wall’ since 2010.

Over half of the disease burden in England is deemed preventable, with one in five deaths attributed to causes that could have been avoided.

Between 1990 and 2010, the UK rose from the 26th to the 17th position on the IPPR’s prevention index, which ranks 35 OECD countries in terms of the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) caused by preventable illness.

The UK increased by just one to 16th between 2010 and 2017,

The UK has risen from 29th in 1990 to 21st in 2010 in terms of preventable deaths, increasing by just one again to 20th between 2010 and 2017.

Among their recommendations, IPPR calls on Whitehall to return the public health grant to 2012/13 levels and then grow it at the same pace as NHS spending. This would see an additional £1bn public health investment by 2023/24.

As well as improving public health, the extra investment would have an economic benefit. According to the research cited by the think tank, for every £1 spent on prevention the median return is £14.

Responding to the report, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘Focusing on early intervention and prevention and better self-management is not only better for individuals, it contributes to our economic health and is the most effective use of local government and NHS resources to help people live longer, healthier and more independent lives and reduce health inequalities.

‘Councils are committed to tackling entrenched challenges like adult and childhood obesity, mental illness, alcohol and drug misuse, and sexually transmitted infections.

‘But to help councils improve the health of their citizens and support the NHS even more effectively, government needs to use the Spending Review to plug the £3.6bn funding gap facing adult social care by 2025 and reverse the £700m in reductions to councils’ public health grants.’

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