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NHS launches Long Term Plan: Prevention is Key

Posted: Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:49

NHS launches Long Term Plan: Prevention is Key

The NHS published its Long Term Plan this week, addressing prevention as a way to save 500,000 lives over the next 10 years.

The plan outlines NHS priorities for the future and sets out aims for the improved use of digital technology, more personalised and effective treatments and better access to mental health services for both adults and children. Aside from these, one of the most important messages throughout the plan is the need for preventative measures to decrease the number of cases of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, alcohol abuse and dementia.

In taking a preventative approach, the NHS promises to invest an extra £4.5billion into primary care and community services to decrease the number of people spending unnecessary periods of time in hospital. The expansion of primary care services is key to reducing the levels of pressure currently being faced by hospitals around the country, all of which are struggling to cope with the rising demand for care created by an ageing and growing population.

An inherent aspect of prevention is the need to encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and one way the public can do this is by increasing their levels of physical activity.

Several studies have demonstrated positive correlations between sedentary behaviours and many of the key health conditions outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan; cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and mental health. Those who exercise regularly can therefore significantly decrease their risk of developing such conditions.

Aerobic activity helps to strengthen the heart muscle and can lower blood pressure which can help to reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, while exercise has also been found to lower an individual's risk of developing particular cancers. Physical activity can help to lower blood oestrogen which can in turn lower a woman's risk of breast-cancer and it can also help to prevent bowel cancer by reducing the amount of time that harmful chemicals in food waste spend in contact with the bowel. It is also widely acknowledged that physical activity has huge potential to enhance mental wellbeing, with its ability to promote positive chemical changes in the brain, release endorphins and increase overall mood.

Physical activity therefore plays an essential role in helping to transform the health and wellbeing of the population and is intrinsically linked to the NHS Long Term Plan. The plan recognises a need for the physical activity sector to be acknowledged further as a fundamental participant in the health care challenge, as well as the need for more widespread use of effective schemes such as social prescribing to prevent health conditions from arising.

John Clough, Director of Suffolk Sport commented: "Suffolk Sport welcomes the focus on prevention articulated in the NHS Long Term Plan and the acknowledgement that inactivity is a leading cause of premature death. Encouraging people to be more active throughout their life course is central to our work in support of Suffolk's collective ambition to become the Most Active County in England".

Tags: Long Term Plan, NHS, Physical Activity, Prevention

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