The Cabinet Office and Department of Health and Social Care have published their Prevention Green Paper, Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s. It sets out plans to tackle the causes of preventable ill health in England.
The introduction to the consultation sets out a more personalised approach to prevention proposed by the Green Paper. ‘Prevention is better than cure is one of the oldest principles in medicine. It’s better for the patient and the NHS if we can help to prevent someone becoming ill in the first place. In the past our public health interventions have treated everyone the same: the same message for the entire population. But every individual is different and advances in genomics, artificial intelligence and other new technologies offer the potential for far more personalised and targeted health interventions in the future.’
‘It signals a new approach to public health that involves a personalised prevention model. It will mean the Government, both local and national, working with the NHS to put prevention at the centre of decision-making.’
Commentators have expressed disappointment at how the Green Paper was published, the day before the Conservative Party Leadership announcement, and identified the need for increased funding to make the proposals a reality.
David Buck, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said: “The shabby way this consultation paper was released is disappointing given the significant public health challenges facing the country. The next Prime Minister should move quickly to restore confidence that the population’s health will be a key priority for the new government.
“The paper is a missed opportunity to build on the success of the sugar tax by taking a bolder approach to using tax and regulation to improve public health. Rather than seeing this as the nanny state, polling indicates that public support for these kinds of interventions is stronger than politicians often assume.
“The paper includes some welcome initiatives, for example on childhood obesity, mental health in schools and intentions to move towards a smoke-free society. But overall, it falls short of the scale and ambition needed to address the big health challenges we face as a society, including stalling life expectancy and growing health inequalities.
“Government cuts to public health budgets are leading to reductions in services such as drug treatment, smoking cessation and sexual health services. It is essential that the new government moves quickly to shore up these vital services by finding the £1 billion needed to restore budgets to where they need to be.”