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NHS prevention plan aims to boost life expectancy

Added On : 5th November 2018

Making healthier choice could improve life expectancy, says Health Secretary Matt Hancock


People in England are being told to cut back on alcohol, sugar, salt and fat in a bid to boost the nation's life expectancy by five years.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out his long-term vision for the NHS on Monday - and it will focus on preventing illness.

He is expected to say 10 times more money is spent on treating disease than prevention - which "doesn't stack up".

The plan also recommends that bosses should do more to keep staff healthy.

In his speech, Mr Hancock is expected to set out his aim for people to have five more years of healthy, independent life by 2035. UK life expectancy is currently 82.9 years for women, and 79.2 for men.

To achieve this, Mr Hancock will encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health.

Mr Hancock is expected to say: "It's about people choosing to look after themselves better, staying active and stopping smoking.

"Making better choices by limiting alcohol, sugar, salt and fat."

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

"It's about helping them make better choices, giving them all the support we can, because we know taking the tough decisions is never easy," he will tell the annual meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes.

The plan also includes ambitions to:

  • halve childhood obesity by 2030
  • reduce loneliness by making "social prescribing" - when doctors or nurses prescribe community activities - more widespread
  • diagnosing 75% of cancers at stages one and two by 2028
  • use technology to predict patients' illnesses and target advice at sections of the population

Mr Hancock will add: "In the UK, we are spending £97bn of public money on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it across the UK.

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

The announcement, which is being dubbed the government's "vision", will be followed up by a Green Paper in 2019 - a first draft of the plans.

It comes after last week's Budget, when Chancellor Philip Hammond promised an extra £20.5bn for the NHS over the next five years.

Helen Donovan, from the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the plans but said they needed to be backed up with serious investments.

And Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said the plans follow "years of cuts and failed privatisation".

"Unless ministers reverse these cuts and start fully funding public health services, these announcements will be dismissed as a litany of hollow promises," he said.

By BBC Health News

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