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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.’