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New NHS data suggests state of the nation’s health worse than we thought

Posted: 12th February 2020

A new report released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity has revealed that we’re living longer – but for many these are just extra years of bad health.

The APPG for Longevity has spent nine months gathering expert evidence for the report, The Health of the Nation – a strategy for healthier longer lives, including contributions from the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), which reveals previous estimates that women on average are living in good health for 64 years are too optimistic.

New NHS data shows that men on average are being diagnosed with their first significant long term condition at 56 and women at 55 – leading to nearly 10 years longer in poor health for women, and seven years for men.

As a result, women may live for 29 years in poor health and men for 23 years, an increase of 50% for women and 42% for men.

The evidence also highlights health disparity in our poorest areas as men on average are being diagnosed with a significant long term condition at 49 and woman at 47 years old.

The APPG for Longevity has outlined a number of necessary changes in the report to preventing ill-health, which include:

  • The Prime Minister to make improving our health a national ambition.
  • Central and local government, NHS, and Public Health England jointly need to commit to reduce smoking, obesity, excess alcohol and increase physical activity by 2035 with clear plans.
  • NHS to do more to prevent ill-health and manage its demand. It currently spends less than 5% of its budget on prevention; this should increase to 15% by 2030.
  • Maximise strength in research, technology, innovation and data. Research funders should give the prevention of illness much higher priority. We need an ‘Open Life’ Data Framework, to harness datasets across the life course and stimulate social and business model innovation.

Piers Ricketts, Chair of the AHSN Network and Chief Executive of Eastern AHSN, said: “This is an important and valuable report, to which the AHSNs were keen to contribute.

“The AHSN Network is committed to helping people live longer and lead more independent and healthier lives with world-class innovation and technology. This is the focus of several of our national programmes. We have a good track record in working closely with our NHS, industry and research partners to develop and spread solutions to reduce ill-health and health inequalities across England.”

Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty said: “If we shifted four behaviours – smoking, unhealthy diet, harmful consumption of alcohol and insufficient physical activity, we could prevent up to 75% of new cases of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer incidence.”

Read the full report and find out more about the APPG for Longevity here.