Health Secretary says 'Prevention is better than cure'

Britain's Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock arrives to attend the weekly meeting of the cabinet in Downing Street in London

Britain's Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock arrives to attend the weekly meeting of the cabinet in Downing Street in London

The UK now spends £97 billion of public money on treating disease and only £8 billion preventing it, something Hancock says just "doesn't stack up".

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the government's healthcare prevention plan must be met with ambitious action.

"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. In the United Kingdom, both were achieved by careful and considered government intervention", he said. "Reductions to services such as smoking cessation and sexual health in some areas are directly contributing to unacceptable variations in the quality and quantity of care available to the population".

But he will say the strategy is "not about penalising people".

Moreover, while the government has been trumpeting the £20.5bn as "the single largest cash injection for the NHS ever", it is important to note that "excluded central funds for public health, making the percentage seem larger and suggesting that public health was not a priority", said Dickson.

The plan also includes: halving childhood obesity by 2030; reducing loneliness through social prescribing whereby doctors or nurses prescribe community activities; diagnosing 75% of cancers at stages one and two by 2028; and predicting illnesses and targeting sections of the population with advice via technology including apps.

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Matt Hancock will tell a health conference that taxpayers have a role to play in taking pressure off the National Health Service by focusing on the prevention rather than the cure.

The health secretary has refused to be drawn on how much of the extra £20 billion earmarked for the NHS would be spent on preventative measures.

"That's why prevention matters".

"While we have seen some positive improvements, the scale of the change required in many areas, such as childhood obesity, requires ambitious action and rests on the government being able to deliver on these promises".

Following the announcement, Paul Edwards, director of clinical services at Dementia UK, called for better diagnostic support when it comes to dementia.

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. "Having proper post diagnostic support in place helps not only these people, but also benefits the NHS which is languishing in a time of reduced resources and a lack of understanding around life-limiting conditions, especially in the case of dementia".

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