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Extra NHS funding will 'never ever' close health inequality gap, says PHE

Extra funding for the NHS will ‘never ever’ improve healthcare inequalities, the chief executive of Public Health England has said.

Duncan Selbie criticised politicians for investing in the NHS to ‘demonstrate how much we love it’ without looking at where that money is spent.

Speaking to delegates at the Best Practice show yesterday, he said: ‘Look at what we’ve done in the last 20 years in particular. I think we’ve tripled the training in consultant staffing and left it steady in general practice, haven’t we?

‘Look at what we’ve been spending in hospital-based care as against what we’ve done in primary care. These are all choices.’

According to a report from the BMA, the proportion of health service funds spent on GP services has fallen in the past decade, dropping to 7.9% of the overall NHS budget in 2016/17 compared with 9.6% in 2005/6.

But he added despite spending ‘more money than we’ve ever spent’ on the NHS, ‘it will never close the gap between the affluent and the poor’. 

He said: ‘It will never ever change the health profile of this country. It doesn’t matter how much more money we put in. It won’t change things.’

Instead he said that job creation is the ‘single most important measure for improving health’ in the next 20 years. 

Mr Selbie said: ‘I’m seeing the Government’s industrial strategy about how to get jobs into places that haven’t had them - jobs that local people can get - as the single most important measure for improving health and closing the gap between the affluent and the poor over the next 20 years.’ 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched a strategy in August to reduce health inequalities after finding a wide discrepancy in years spent in good health between boroughs and genders.

Mr Khan said at the time: ‘Leading a healthy life should not be determined by where you live - it is unacceptable that a person’s wealth, background and postcode has such a major impact on their overall health.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • AlanAlmond

    Job creation will fix health inequalities? Really? This is total crap. At a time when we have almost record employment we have some of the worst levels of inequality in modern times. If the only jobs you produce pay so badly they all have to be subsidised by the tax payer with in work benefits you end up fairly screwed, and an ecconomy blighted by ‘worryingly low productivity levels’ which idiot economists who write for papers like the FT find ‘difficult to explain’.

    I read in the papers the other day an article about the shocking levels of inequality in our country and the almost absent levels of real pay growth for the ‘average Jo’ over the last 15 years. Directly opposite on the same page was a story about how the owner of classic FM had just had an application to extend his £180 million pound flat into 10 bedrooms turned down.

    Job creation on its own does very little ...that is painfully obvious and screamed out by the country we are actually living in today. You need jobs that pay and less obscene disparity between them. When a single individual who runs a few radio stations can amass the kind of wealth that sees him owning a single property potentially valued at £180 million in the capital of our country that’s all you need to know about inequality in today’s ‘United’ kingdom’ Mr chief executive. Mean while could could do worse than to actually fund the health service you are promising, and if you can’t then to stop lying to people that they can have a service that isn’t being paid for.

    Action plan number one - end the rampant inequality between the funding for hospitals and the funding for general practice. That would help and wouldn’t require an increase in the health budget in itself at all .. just a fairer distribution.

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  • Dear All,
    OK he may be right in the sense that health is not a medical issue, the three greatest evidence proven determinants of overall life long health being 1) having a job, 2) having a home and 3) having someone to love or who loves you (aka a human to human relationship).
    But
    he identifies these facts;

    "Look at what we’ve done in the last 20 years in particular. I think we’ve tripled the training in consultant staffing and left it steady in general practice, haven’t we?

    ‘Look at what we’ve been spending in hospital-based care as against what we’ve done in primary care. These are all choices.’

    So yet another guru confirming what we all know. Invest in primary care. We won't sort out health inequality in one fell swoop but we will go a long way to help sorting a whole heap of other issues.
    Regards
    Paul C

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