Key points

  • The greatest influences on people's health and wellbeing come from outside health care, including factors such as education, employment, housing, and community. 
  • In 2017 the Health Foundation started implementing a long-term strategy to improve people's health in the UK.
  • This document introduces eight key themes that underpin the strategy.

Good health is an asset. It is necessary for a prosperous and flourishing society. The greatest influences on our wellbeing and health are factors such as education and employment, housing, and the extent to which community facilitates healthy habits and social connection.

Access to health care could account for as little as 10% of a population’s health and wellbeing. While equipping health care systems to provide safe, timely and effective care is as important as ever, this is far from sufficient on its own to improve people’s health in the UK. In 2017, the Health Foundation started implementing our long-term strategy to bring about better health for people in the UK.

The aims of the strategy are to:

  • change the conversation so the focus is on health as an asset, rather than ill health as a burden
  • promote national policies that support everyone’s opportunities for a healthy life
  • support local action to address variations in people’s opportunities for a healthy life.

The strategy has been developed through extensive formal and informal engagement with multiple stakeholders. This engagement has highlighted that the impact of our strategy will not rely on simply ‘what’ the Foundation chooses to focus on as much as ‘how’ we approach the challenge. Drawing on the insights gathered so far, we have identified eight themes to guide our strategy to improve people’s health in the UK. We outline these themes in this document and why we think they are important.

In the course of developing the themes that guide our strategy, we have come across a number of useful resources and case studies – find them listed in our Resources Guide.

Further reading

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