The Welsh NHS Confederation has launched a call for a national conversation on the future of healthcare in Wales.
Backed by 32 organisations across the country, the call highlights the need for a cross-government consultation on the future of Welsh healthcare services and the people they serve.
The Welsh NHS Confederation underlined the evolving needs of the population as people live longer and the rising prevalence of long-term conditions – issues that concern all parts of government and ones that must be tackled through collaboration and co-production.
National survey results for Wales show a spate of health inequality-widening and life expectancy-reducing issues. These include how:
- 13% of people smoke
- 17% of people drink more alcohol than recommended
- 37% of people report a healthy weight
- 55% of people said they were active for 150 minutes in the previous week
This is against the backdrop of Public Health Wales analysis showing that, if current trends continue, approximately 260,000 people will have diabetes in Wales by 2035/36. That number would be closer to 218,000 if the current prevalence was maintained.
“Access to healthcare only accounts for around 10 per cent of a population’s health, with the rest shaped by socio-economic factors,” said Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation.
“In such economically challenging times, we must ensure we do not cut spending on preventative measures, which would inevitably lead to a greater cost down the line. Fair work, housing, transport, access to green spaces, leisure and the arts help us stay well. Everything affects our health and wellbeing.”
People must be empowered to take care of their own health in work that must be adequately and sustainably funded, according to the NHS.
Some of the organisations endorsing the Welsh NHS Confederation’s call include the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, the Royal College of General Practitioners and Macmillan.
Hughes concluded: “Change must happen, it’s simply not an option to stay as we are – we need to think about the future now.”
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