What is stopping the government from meeting the illness prevention challenge and how can barriers be overcome? Dr Jim O’Donnell, Medical Director at Medical Solutions, will be tackling this pressing problem alongside other panellists at the ABI Health and Protection event on 30th January. Prior to this highly topical debate, we remind you of the importance of prevention.
Modern medicine has enhanced our life expectancy and on average we are living 13 years longer than we did when the NHS was formed in 1948. As an adult in 1948 you most likely sought medical advice for an injury or fracture. Today, heart disease, stroke and complex chronic conditions often associated with a poor lifestyle (diet and exercise) are common threats to adult health.
15 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition. According to NHS England GP Patient Survey 2019, more than half (52.4%) of the 160.8 million NHS England consultations that take place in England alone are for patients who suffer from one or more long-term physical or mental health condition, disability or illness.
Patients with chronic conditions use 70% of the NHS budget. Two of the most prevalent and most preventable conditions are hypertension and diabetes. Hypertension is the leading risk factor for heart and circulatory disease in the UK; around 50% of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure. The British Heart Foundation estimates that over 14 million of us have high blood pressure, but only 9.7 million have been diagnosed by their GP and are receiving treatment.
Diabetes is more common than ever before; one in 15 people in the UK have diabetes, and this figure has nearly doubled in the last 25 years. Diabetes UK calculates that around one million people in the UK have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. The main risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is obesity, which is responsible for between 80-85% of all cases. Diabetes UK, in turn, predicts that by 2025 more than five million people will be living with diabetes and yet more than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed.
Action is necessary
Greater access to support, information and incentives that drive positive behaviour change are necessary to reduce the top five risk factors of disease, identified by the Global Burden of disease study as smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol and drug use. Although this responsibility is shared with local authorities and with the contribution of government, communities, industry and individuals, a ‘renewed’ NHS prevention programme features in the NHS Long Term plan focusing on maximising the NHS’s role in influencing behaviour change and reducing health inequalities.
If the relevant bodies are committing to a prevention plan, what are barriers to a healthier nation? Register for the event to discover what is halting progress and how these barriers may be overcome.
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