Why we need more public health services

As the NHS reaches its 75th birthday and people around the country celebrate its history of delivering universal healthcare, free at the point of use. The role played by the NHS in preventing people becoming ill in the first place should not be forgotten. Collectively known as public health, these services have had the greatest impact on the country’s health ever.

Since the advent of public health services around 160 years ago, with 75 years within the NHS, they have almost doubled life expectancy for men and women, and enabled the UK population to live much healthier and longer lives than each previous generation, and thereby remain active in the community for longer either working or volunteering.

Public health services provide preventative services, including smoking cessation, drug and alcohol services, children’s health services, including health visitors and vaccination programmes, and sexual health services, as well as broader public health support across local authorities and the NHS. The NHS provided these services for most of its 75 years, but since 2014, they have been provided primarily by local authorities but often in association with the NHS. They are funded by a grant from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) budget.

Full article in The Lowdown, 5 July 2023