Responding to the government’s prevention green paper, Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s, Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, said:

'With health inequalities in England widening and life expectancy improvements stalling, this green paper amounts to a missed opportunity. Perhaps unsurprisingly at a time of political uncertainty, the government has stepped back from the bold action required. But this should concern us all when ambitious whole-government action is urgently needed to tackle the root causes of ill health – including poverty and deprivation, poor housing, poor quality work, social isolation and poor quality environments.

'By its own admission the government states that this green paper only goes some way to delivering its goal of five extra years of healthy life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest. But if it is not in the remit of a government prevention strategy to do this, then where does the responsibility fall? Our analysis shows that if things continue as they are, it could take as long as 75 years – not 16 – to reach this goal.  

'Aspects of the paper are welcome, including the creation of a health index for England setting the population’s health on a par with GDP; the recognition of the need for a stronger focus on prevention across all areas of government policy; and the focus on joint working between the NHS and local government. However, with its emphasis on individual-level action, and with no mention of the necessary local government funding, the approach risks exacerbating rather than reducing health inequalities.

'Overall, the paper falls a long way short of the comprehensive shift in approach needed to create healthier lives for people in England. A healthy economy needs a healthy population to power it. The incoming Prime Minister will need to take stronger action if Britain is to have a prosperous future.'

Media contact

Susannah McIntyre
Susannah.McIntyre@health.org.uk
07388 118 004
0207 664 4647

Responding to the prevention green paper: long read series

Long read

A health index for England: opportunities and challenges ARCHIVED

Less than a minute to read

Long read

This long read explores the government’s proposal to place health as a core measure of government...

Further reading

Blog

The ‘good health’ gap: what will it take to reduce health inequalities?

24 July 2019
Blog

Following the publication of the government’s prevention green paper David Finch considers a missed...

Partnership

Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On

Partnership

Commissioned by the Health Foundation, the Institute of Health Equity is working on an analysis of...

You might also like...

Event

Webinar: Making healthy decisions on urban development and planning

Event

Join us for the fourth and final webinar in this series sharing emerging findings from UKPRP-funded...

Register

Press release

NAO delivers cold dose of reality for government’s NHS recovery plan

Press release

Health Foundation response to the NAO's report on the NHS backlog.

Event

Webinar: Commercial determinants of health and health inequalities

Event

Catch up with the third webinar in this series sharing emerging findings from UKPRP-funded projects...

Watch video
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Thanks to our speakers and to everyone who joined our #THFNetZeroNHS webinar this morning. A recording is now avai… https://t.co/7GbTPDgibM

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more