Health Secretary says 'Prevention is better than cure'

Matt Hancock the Health Secretary is an advocate of free fruit in the workplace

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has called on patients to have greater responsibility for their own health in the launch of new a green paper entitled "Prevention is better than cure" which outlines a vision for a "new 21st-century focus on prevention".

Company Chemists' Association (CCA) chief executive Malcolm Harrison said community pharmacy "already helps prevent illness through its advocacy of self-care, provision of flu vaccinations, stop smoking support, blood pressure checks and more".

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

Mr Hancock said in a speech at the International Association of National Public Health Institutes: "Prevention is also about ensuring people take greater responsibility for managing their own health".

"Too much of the health debate in England has been about rights. That requires more resources for prevention".

Mr Hancock warned that a 6.6% increase in emergency admissions to A&E over the a year ago was "unsustainable".

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the extra £20.5 billion a year promised by prime minister Theresa May to the NHS in June, gives the DH "a unique opportunity to radically change the focus of health and social care onto prevention".

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.

He said now the overwhelming majority of the NHS budget was spent on acute care, with just £11 billion going to primary care, where the bulk of prevention took place.

"The combination of prevention and predictive medicine have more than twice the impact on the length of healthy life", he said.

"That isn't just the difference between life and death".

"Over the course of our lives, our first and most frequent interactions with health and social care services are likely to be with our GP, school nurse, dentist, local pharmacist, social worker, health visitor or midwife", the DH said.

"So our focus must shift from treating single acute illnesses to promoting the health of the whole individual, and from prevention across the population as a whole, to targeted predictive prevention". In the Netherlands, by contrast, companies can be penalised if they don't do enough to help sick staff recover.

But she also stressed that it is "not only hospitals that are feeling the strain and we urgently need greater investment in general practice - both extra funding and additional numbers of Global Positioning System and other healthcare professionals - before we can take on the responsibility of caring for and supporting even greater numbers of patients".

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