Responding to the launch of the Office for National Statistics Health Index for England, Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, said:
'Today’s launch of the ONS health index is an important milestone that provides much needed recognition that the nation’s health is an asset – as important to the economy and wider society as it is to the individual. The index not only measures how healthy people are today but also looks at the wider social and economic circumstances that will influence our – and the next generation’s – ability to live healthy lives in the future. Tracking these indicators over time provides the opportunity to finally look beyond GDP as a sole measure of national success.
'The index has the potential to drive decisions that reflect a broader view of health and hold the government to account, providing measurable evidence of how its policies contribute positively or negatively to the long-term health of the UK. For example, government spending and policies that leads to better educational attainment, more decent homes, and less air pollution are just some of the actions that will score in the index, and ultimately give more people the opportunity to live a healthy life, now and in the future.
'Even before the pandemic, the NHS was facing unprecedented levels of demand, capacity issues and major staffing shortages. Having long favoured quick fixes, the government must now make sustained investment in areas that help keep people out of hospital in the first place. As it plans the pandemic recovery, the index points to the action needed across multiple government departments to keep people healthy now and in the future. Cross government working will be essential if the government is to meet its commitment to increasing the number of years that people in the UK can expect to live in good health.'
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