Early in January, the government launched the NHS Long Term Plan to set out how it will guarantee the future of the NHS. It describes how we will use the largest funding settlement in the history of the NHS of £20.5bn to strengthen it over the next decade, rising to the challenges of today and seizing the opportunities of the future.
One of the central components of the Plan is the principle that “prevention is better than cure” and that people must take responsibility for their own health. We all have responsibilities, and the NHS has responsibility too. By encouraging people to take more responsibility for their own well-being, whether it be through having a better diet and losing weight, doing more exercise, giving up smoking or other measures to improve our health, we are freeing up resources to be used for those who really need the services of the NHS, and it will ensure that the NHS is always there in the future for us and our families.
It is so important that people need to keep well, and living in the community, and out of hospital for longer. In practice this means funding services such as pre-primary, primary and community care which target the root causes of poor health and promote the health of the whole individual, not just treating single acute illnesses. Everyone has a part to play, and we must work together across society to ensure that we are all enjoying the best health possible. As we are at the start of a new year, I would encourage everyone to make a resolution to take greater responsibility for their own health. If we all do our bit, we will all reap the benefits, both individually and as a society as a whole.