Prevention is better than cure

UnknownThe NHS just got a 70th birthday present of a funding boost to save the ailing institution which ‘celebrates’ its grand old age on July 5. The gift is welcome but remains wrapped because no-one in the government has said how much, when and for how long. It’s an exercise in pass-the-parcel with multi layers to be stripped off before we get to the prize.
And what will the present be? £5 billion, £50 billion, more? The PM and the Health Secretary are light on detail but in this case the principle is way more important than the small print.
Whatever they give will not be enough if it is a one-off payment. We need to change our relationship with public health funding as much as we need to change public health.
that £50 billion will build the healthcare walls a bit higher but it will do little to stop the rising tide of preventable diseases that will spill over the new heights of funding pretty soon. I’ve long argued for the funding of health to be prised away from polarised party politics – it is way too important to be an idealogical football….the Health and Social Care Act ‘reforms’ of 2012 cost £4 billion and, no matter how much that figure is debated, it did little to change the downward trajectory of the NHS. And the plans of other political parties are hardly visionary.
So, and it’s a big SO, we need to change we as a society address our health, individually and collectively. Change is rarely easy but this has to start from our first steps, first words, first lessons. Health should be as important as the Three Rs in childhood development.
I recently wrote a piece for The Future of Health supplement published in The Times which examined the pressure of an ageing population weighted down by chronic diseases that could be avoided.
The Danish think tank, Demos, argues that any solution to this demographic mudslide has to be co-ordinated across health provision, housing, town planning and technology. Its founder, Aleksi Neuvonen, commented: “It will be the biggest social change in history.”
It will be difficult but it is the only game in town if the NHS is to survive. It’s going to be a long road when you consider that hospitals have fast food outlets and junk food is the cheap, easy option.
The hope is in growing realisation that plodding along will not cut it. NICE, the government’s health watchdog, agrees and has set out a series of modelling tools that show the savings that can be made by interventions from alcohol to wellbeing.
We should celebrate the NHS’s 70th and all it stands for but also realise that we are at the difficult birth of a new healthcare challenge that should unite all across the political and societal spectrums.