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Health leaders call for preventative approach to healthcare

Published: 13/02/2024

A landmark report into the state of health and social care in Britain, using Vitality data, was recently published at The Times Health Summit in London.

High-profile health leaders, including Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting and Sir Patrick Vallance, debated the future of healthcare at The Times Health Summit on Tuesday 6 February. 

The event, in partnership with Vitality and AstraZeneca, published the findings of The Times’ Health Commission, a landmark report that puts a spotlight on the importance of prevention and issues a 10-point plan to improve healthcare services in the UK.

Amongst the recommendations are plans to improve digital access, tackle waiting lists and establish a National Care System.

There is also a significant focus on the importance of preventative measures, to address the challenges from deteriorating population health and wellbeing.

As a pioneer for prevention in the healthcare space, Vitality was called upon to contribute to the insights published in the report.

In particular, the commission drew upon the evidence from the Vitality Programme, as well our latest Britain’s Healthiest Workplace findings, to examine the impact of behavioural biases and the effectiveness of incentivisation in overcoming these.

The 'healthcare dilemma'

Speaking ahead of the event, Vitality UK CEO Neville Koopowitz highlighted what he described as the “paradox of wellness versus sickness in the UK”.

He said: “When you get ill, you can get treatment and see the results fairly quickly… You go for an operation, you get cured. Wellness is exactly the opposite. It takes time to eat well and to see the benefits of weight loss or getting physically active. It’s more expensive, because you’ve got to sign up to go to a gym or a personal trainer or eat healthy foods. So you’ve got this healthcare dilemma.”

The case for prevention is clearer than ever

These findings highlight how intelligently designed nudges and incentives can bring about sustainable behaviour change and can effectively help to overcome the wellbeing challenges the country is facing.

For example, Vitality data shows those engaged with the Vitality Programme for a year increased their exercise by 22%, reduced consumption of fatty foods by 27% and increased the amount of fruit and vegetables they ate by 11%.

These improvements in lifestyle risks translate into reduced morbidity and mortality risk. Members who recorded physical activity at least once a week had a 15% lower risk of hospitalisation and highly active members had a 41% lower mortality risk.

Further analysis by Vitality suggests that incentivising healthy habits and reducing 10% of the preventable disease burden could save the NHS at least £1.2 billion, making the case for prevention clearer than ever.

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