Today’s debates over hospitals and choice will soon look anachronistic and that the key priority for the NHS will be management of chronic disease.
This already drives most of the NHS’ costs and which will require radically new approaches to healthcare that put patients in control.
Life begins at 60 sets out a vision of a health service that does what the NHS was originally intended to do: keep people well and put wellness at the heart of policy.
The report argues that success in combating infectious diseases in the 19th century, and acute diseases in the 20th century, is now focusing attention on chronic diseases – from arthritis and depression to diabetes and heart disease.
This is a very different kind of epidemic: as many as 80% of GP consultations now concern chronic illness rather than the kind of health problems where traditional forms of intervention seem appropriate.
Progress towards an NHS focused on wellness will involve continued attention to diet and fitness, recognising the importance of supportive social networks and addressing the many environmental causes of ill-health: from poor food and congestion to stress and bad housing.
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