In this election campaign, a lot of attention has focused on the NHS. This is unsurprising since people generally value their health above most other things including income, careers and education. Good health is valuable in its own right but it also creates thriving economies and communities. Everyone needs to be able to rely on the NHS when they are unwell, so a properly resourced health care system is vital, and the NHS has a clear role to play in preventing ill health.
- A healthy population is one of the nation’s most important assets. It is valuable in its own right and also creates value for society. It allows people to participate in family life, the community and the workplace.
- Long-term improvements in life expectancy and mortality in the UK have stalled and are falling behind other high-income countries. At the same time the difference between the health of people living in the best- and worst-off communities is widening.
- Action is needed across the whole of government to address these trends. Investment needs to be directed towards areas of public spending that create the right conditions for people to lead healthy lives.
- Stronger measures are needed to ensure that government is held to account for the health of the population. This should include adopting a legislative framework, along the lines of the Welsh Wellbeing of Future Generations Act to encourage long-term action across government to promote good health. It should also include establishing an independent body to track and analyse trends in mortality and morbidity.
- Similarly, the way success is measured nationally needs to change, moving beyond GDP to evaluating policy on the basis of health and wellbeing as a primary measure of successful government.