Paper on ill health 'long overdue and very welcome', says Northumberland health chief

A Government paper on preventing ill health is ‘long overdue and very welcome’, according to a Northumberland health boss.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 12th October 2019, 8:00 am
Picture c/o Pixabay

The Government published its Green Paper, Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s, in July.

A consultation, which seeks views on its proposals to tackle the causes of preventable ill health in England and covers a range of initiatives on challenges such as smoking, obesity, mental health and clean air, runs until Monday October 14.

A report to Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board on Thursday October 10 states that the consultation ‘provides an opportunity to influence the shift in focus from cure to prevention’.

It adds: ‘This Green Paper pays as much attention to how long people live in good health as how long people live.

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‘Across England, people living in more affluent communities are enjoying many more years in good health than those who live in the least affluent areas.

‘There is a national agreement that continued effort is required to narrow this gap and while this Green Paper cannot deliver the entire five extra years of healthy, independent life the Government wants to achieve by 2035, the measures within it could make a positive difference.’

Both increasing healthy life expectancy and reducing inequalities are key themes in the 10-year Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

The county’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, told the meeting: “The Government recognises that prevention is absolutely crucial in improving the health and wellbeing of the population.

“There are areas of real ambition (in the Green Paper), but also areas which we would want the Government to focus on more.”

With this in mind, the board agreed to endorse the response which she had drafted, which sets out a range of suggestions on issues including breastfeeding, funding for GPs, focusing on the wider determinants of health, sleep deprivation and healthy eating.

Earlier this week, NHS Providers published its latest report, The state of the NHS provider sector, which is based on survey responses from leaders at more than 54% of trusts nationwide, representing hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services.

It revealed that 77% of trust leaders are worried that there is not enough investment in public health and prevention services in their local area.

Coun Ian Hudspeth, the chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board said: “This report reinforces our call for long-term sustainable funding for vital council services, including adult social care, public health and prevention.

“The upcoming Queen’s Speech and next year’s Spending Review are opportunities to give councils greater powers and funding to help achieve this and relieve pressure on our overstretched health service.

“Public health plays a vital role in promoting and improving wellbeing, preventing ill health and reducing health inequalities.

“There cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable adult social care and public health system.”