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Prevention, not cure, is the answer to ailing NHS – say public

8th July 2015

The general public would prefer the Government to allocate NHS funds to preventative health measures ahead of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes and obesity, research by health and wellbeing provider Benenden reveals.

When asked which areas of the NHS they would allocate most funds to, the public responded with the following top 10, showing that while cancer tops the list of priorities, they strongly believe a greater emphasis should be put on individual responsibility for health.

The public’s top priorities for healthcare funding were as follows:

1. Cancer

2. Preventative Health

3. Health Disease

4. Mental Health

5. = Dementia Care

5. = Stroke

7. Pregnancy and Childbirth

8. Rare/Genetic Diseases

9. = Orthopaedics

9. = Obesity

Medical Director at Benenden Dr. John Giles commented, “The focus of the NHS has to be on preventing illness and improving quality of life. At the moment the NHS channels £5.8 billion for public health spending[1], that is around 5% of its total budget into prevention. However, too many people still believe that the NHS will always be on hand to pick up the pieces, regardless of how unhealthy their lifestyle is and that cannot always be the case.”

The previous Coalition Government sought to value mental and physical health equally, and, as the public voted mental health funding in fourth place above major diseases such as stroke, dementia and diabetes, the Government and public’s views on funding for mental health is aligned.

Interestingly, obesity is lowest on the list, with the public prioritising all other diseases and treatments before it. Given that the Government are spending a huge amount on restrictive stomach procedures, the public disagree with this allocation of funds, preferring to focus on preventative health measures.

There is also strong support for the idea of “super hospitals” to deal with major health issues such as heart attacks and strokes. The public, in general, believes that other conditions are best treated locally.

While the British public have great faith in the NHS and its ability to help and support them in times of need, they are not opposed to the third sector being involved in the process as our figures show: Just over 50% see no problem in the involvement of private providers of all types and a third would rather the NHS work with non-profit sector only – such as mutuals.

The research, conducted following the General Election, also found that almost one in five (17%) say the election outcome has made them more likely to want private healthcare. This feeling of anxiety was mirrored in a number of the other findings: 60% of people believe that the NHS will get worse over the next five years, and the majority of people (58%) believe that the new Government will be worse for the NHS than the previous Coalition Government.

Chief Executive of Benenden, Marc Bell, said: “The Government must sit up and take note of what the public feel in relation to NHS funding priorities and the involvement of third sector organisations in the health service. This report clearly shows that the public is happy to see a “mixed market” for the provision of healthcare in the UK and, as a not-for profit mutual focusing on health and wellbeing, we truly believe that mutuals like ours are able to support the NHS across the United Kingdom to deliver the care that people need.”

Read the full version of the report here.

Ends

Notes for Editors

“The General Public and the NHS 2015: Views for the new Parliament” was launched at the House of Commons on Wednesday 8 July 2015.

A national sample of 1025 was interviewed, with the sample representative of the UK in terms of age, sex and by region.


 

[1] http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/spending-public-health

 

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