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Fit for the future: a preventative approach to healthcare

(All guest blogs represent the views of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of the ABI or its membership.)

Lord Darzi recently led an independent review[1] of the NHS to coincide with its 70th anniversary, and his final report was published in June. In his interim report, published in April, he included ‘Enduring Principles’ that beautifully sum up what the NHS, and health insurers, are involved in.

“Health comes first, for all of us, our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.  Health is the purest form of wealth because it is what allows us to lead the best version of our life possible; it is the wellspring from which all our other experiences are made possible.

"The task of our health and care systems is not just to treat and care, but to prevent ill health, as well as to provide care and support that builds independence and resilience in the face of chronic illness.”

We agree that prevention is key, and we have always championed a preventative approach to healthcare. Now the new Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, has stated that prevention is in his top three priorities, alongside workforce and technology.

Encouragingly, Simplyhealth own research, released at this year’s Conservative Party Conference, shows that 69% of GPs strongly support the Health Minister’s view that prevention needs to be a top three priority, with almost half (46%) stating that they currently spend at least two days a working week treating patients with preventable illnesses.

However, our research[2] also shows that there are significant barriers to GPs being able to support a preventative approach.  Nearly half (47%) admit that it is difficult to offer advice to patients who have preventable illnesses without it being seen as ‘nanny state’ or a ‘blame culture’ and destroying any relationship with them.  Half (53%) believe that lack of knowledge and understanding on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle is a barrier for patients, and four out of five GPs (79%) say that lack of motivation is also a big challenge.

We all know that GPs do an excellent job in challenging circumstances, and are often the first port of call; but more support is needed, in addition to the GP’s role, to truly help people to take a preventative approach to their health.

Employers are well placed to help and encourage their employees to take a preventative approach to their own healthcare.  As well as benefitting individuals, this can help reduce absenteeism and presenteeism and, ultimately, improve employee morale and productivity.  We work with a range of employers across the private and public sectors, including a large number of NHS Trusts throughout the UK, helping to maintain the health of their workforces so they are in the best health to care for patients.

Through effective partnership between the NHS, the private sector, employers, and the third sector, together we can ensure that public health services are sustainable in the long term and accessible for those most in need.  This can only be good for the health of the NHS so it can be preserved to efficiently and effectively meet the healthcare needs of future generations.

Our research was released during a panel event titled ‘Fit for the future: How can we sustainably support the nation’s health and ensure good outcomes across all services?’

[1] The Lord Darzi Review of Health and Care, Interim Report, April 2018, published by The Institute for Public Policy Research

[2] Source: Research Now SSI, 250 GPs, 13th -17th September 2018

Last updated 30/10/2018