Can we afford cuts to health spending?

As Rishi Sunak considers a tightening of public sector spending, evidence of the cost of ill health to the nation’s economy is showing that a squeeze on NHS funding would be a false economy.

In her seven weeks in the job the noted smoker Thérèse Coffey had already signaled her intention to ditch a tobacco control plan, and it remains to be seen whether this lurch toward libertarianism will be continued by her successor Steve Barclay, as he returns to the health and social care brief – that he only left in September.

In his time away Barclay may have missed research published earlier this month quantifying how investment in health boosts labour productivity and therefore economic activity. Analysis commissioned by the NHS Confederation and conducted by consultancy Carnall Farrar showed that for every taxpayer pound invested in the health service, four times that amount is recouped through gains in productivity stemming from increased participation in the labour market.

Two reports published earlier in the year, both relating to mental health, drew similar conclusions, after calculating the negative costs to the UK economy of the failure to invest adequately in the provision of support services.

Full story in The Lowdown, 25 October 2022