Focus on prevention

6 November 2014        

Heart muscle cells

The UK will fail to meet international commitments on reducing deaths from preventable diseases unless it prioritises the prevention of ill health, according to the British Heart Foundation and other leading health charities.

Without a national plan for health improvement, led by the Prime Minister, the World Health Organisation’s target of reducing preventable deaths by 25% by 2025 simply will not be met. The call was made in a new report from The Richmond Group of Charities, made up of 10 UK health charities including the BHF.

The report highlights how in England tackling common risk factors such as smoking, inactivity, unhealthy diet and alcohol would drastically reduce the number of people affected by common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and stroke, while helping to prevent or delay the onset of conditions like dementia.

The charities outline nine key calls to action through which political leaders and key decision-makers can ensure disease prevention is placed at the top of the agenda. These include:

  • a national plan for health improvement, led by the Prime Minister 
  • making public health the business of all Government, with all new policies and publicly funded programmes being assessed for their impact on health, 
  • and making prevention a key consideration in local authority responsibilities. 

Simon Gillespie, our Chief Executive said: “The Government’s target of reducing preventable deaths by 25 per cent by 2025 is at serious risk.

“They urgently need to take more action to tackle smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol and unhealthy diets to drastically reduce the number of people with heart disease.

“Tens of thousands are dying unnecessarily from heart disease, and hundreds of thousands more have to live with the burden of a condition which is largely preventable.

A clear prevention strategy is crucial for cutting the number of deaths and cutting costs for the NHS that is already buckling under the strain.

Everyone has a role to play in this. Along with taking steps to improve our health, we need to make it clear to politicians how important this issue is to patients, carers and the general public.”