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07.06.16

UK risks missing preventable death target without policy redesigns

The UK risks missing its target on reducing preventable death and disability unless policies are redesigned to promote healthy lifestyles, according to a new report.

The report, from the Richmond Group of Charities, says that the UK is not on target to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) goal of reducing avoidable deaths for men by 25% by 2025, and will only narrowly pass its target for women.

It says that reaching this target would mean preventing 249,700 deaths and 820,000 years lived with disability, which will require measures including raising the price of alcohol, a tax on sugary drinks and redesigning urban environments to encourage physical activity.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said she supported the goal of improving lifestyles to prevent health problems.

“By focusing solely on the problems of today we are storing up even greater problems for the future,” she said. “Preventable ill health costs individuals, costs the NHS and costs the economy.”

She added that using public services to promote prevention of health problems was “even more urgent” because of the financial crisis in the NHS.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy recently predicted that the NHS deficit could hit £16bn by 2020 and warned that the Five Year Forward View, designed to improve prevention, may already be outdated.

The news comes as a report from eurostat shows that 34.2% of the deaths in the UK in 2013, due to factors such as cancer and heart disease, could have been prevented with better health care.

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