Lecture series on preventive health care launched

Delivered by leading researchers in the field, a new series of lectures on the vital role of prevention in health care is launched at Wolfson College. 

We love the NHS by John Gomez

We all know that our NHS is overstretched. At the start of 2019 a new Long Term Plan for the NHS was launched with £20.5 billion extra funding over five years. At its heart is a vision of 'Prevention is better than cure' with an emphasis on out-of-hospital care and integrating primary (GP) and community health services. Currently the majority of the £115 billion NHS budget is spent on acute care with just £11 billion on primary care where the majority of prevention takes place. Over half the burden of ill health and early death is linked to preventable lifestyle factors which can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and lung disease. But to be effective prevention involves action not only by the NHS but by other Government departments, local authorities, industry and voluntary groups and by individuals taking more responsibility for their own health.  

Inspired by this vision, Wolfson Explores Transformation is offering a series of talks on 'Transforming healthcare through prevention' by leading professionals in the field. Our goal is to let the public know about the actions of government and local authorities, and to encourage participation in personal health care.  

Professor Martin Vernon, Consultant Geriatrician in Manchester and National Clinical Director for Older People at NHS England, will initiate the series with his talk Ageing well on a national scale: achieving the balance between fitness and frailty. Professor Vernon has led multiple national projects including development of the NHS Long Term Plan Ageing Well Programme, 

By 2050 one in four people will be over 65, at which age both men and women can expect to spend around half of their remaining life expectancy in good health. As life expectancy increases, so too does the amount of time many spend in poor health. There is significant geographical variation in how people age, driven by wider determinants such as deprivation, unemployment and poor quality housing, leading to health inequality across the country. Importantly there are substantial economic and organisational impacts on the health and social care system in supporting those with problematic ageing which will continue to increase in the absence of a sustainable approach to prevention.

For these reasons supporting people to age well are key priorities for the NHS. Getting this right means ensuring health and social care policies pay attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalised populations. The NHS Long Term Plan has begun to do this in England by deploying frailty as a useful indicator of problematic ageing, helping to manage population health by identifying those individuals who may be at greatest risk of death, urgent care or permanent care home utilisation.

The second talk, on 15 November, by Professor Ian Goodyer OBE, Emeritus Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cambridge is Prevention of mental illness in the adolescent years. On 29 November Professor Elio Riboli, Professor in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at School of Public Health, Imperial College, London, will talk on The nutrition and cancer journey: from chemical-physical carcinogenesis to metabolic carcinogenesis.

A further four talks will take place in 2020.