Shift to preventive healthcare 'requires growth in public health grant'

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The plans argue for a shift towards primary and community care services, to look at the early support they can offer people in preventing bad health taking hold.

"Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people ... dishing out drugs when it isn't what's best for the patient and it won't solve their problem".

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".

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.

The health secretary suggested that members of the public should "look after themselves better" by staying active, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption.

Mr English added: "Prevention is a win-win both in the obvious impact it has on the health of the population and its cost effectiveness in reducing future demand on NHS services".

The Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP said: "If he's serious about supporting healthy choices surely he must bring to an end the free for all that sees supermarkets encouraging alcohol consumption and ludicrously discounted prices".

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". "You don't have to be an economist to see those numbers don't stack up", he said.

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"That's why prevention matters".

Matt Hancock, speaking to the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, spoke about a major push for prevention, and said that people should "take more care of their own health".

His plans include increasing specialist mental health services to a further 30,000 women during and post pregnancy by 2020 to 2021, halving childhood obesity, diagnosing 75% of cancers at stages 1 and 2 by 2028, and offering whole-genome sequencing to all seriously ill children and those with cancer by 2019. "That's why we need a new 21st century focus on prevention".

Mr Hancock later told Sky News the recent £20.5bn extra funding for the NHS was not reliant on a Brexit deal.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, also welcomed the green paper, but said that it must be backed by real action to make "prevention a central pillar of the long-term plan for the NHS".

"We have to back this commitment with real action and properly fund and staff these important services", he urged.

"In local communities, years of cuts and failed privatisation have resulted in health visitor and school nurse numbers falling, whilst children are losing out on the key early years health interventions they need".

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