The King's Fund statement in response to Derek Wanless report, securing good health for the whole population

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The King's Fund today welcomed the publication of Derek Wanless' second report to the government on the provision of health services in the UK, Securing good health for the whole population, as a 'wake-up call' to the government, the NHS and the public.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'There is a juggernaut heading for the NHS with the obesity and diabetes epidemic, worsening rates of binge drinking and the worrying rise in sexually transmitted disease. We are all just beginning to wake up to the fact that the vast amount of time and money that has been invested in trying to make our health service more efficient will be to no avail if high levels of preventable illness hit us over the next 10 to 20 years.

'The message coming out here is clear. Individuals have a role to play in taking more control over their own health and making choices that will enable them to lead healthier lives. But they cannot do this without help and support from national government and a range of intermediate organisations, including local government and community-based groups. We have had endless reports on this subject and a plethora of individual public health initiatives. What we now need is a coherent public health approach that involves all Whitehall departments, businesses and individuals and for more consistent targets and incentives for tackling the causes of illness such as smoking and obesity.'

The King's Fund health director Anna Coote said:

'The report marks a step change in health policy. For the first time, the Treasury is pointing to the enormous value to society and to the national economy of turning the NHS from a sickness service into a health service, with a primary focus on prevention rather than on cure. It calls for a coherent public health framework across government, with health care organisations and local councils working more closely together.

'Derek Wanless has set out some useful principles and pointers. The real challenge now is to make sure the right incentives are in place across government so that actions are taken that really make a difference. Let's hope the Department of Health and other government departments can rise to that challenge.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information, or interviews with The King's Fund staff, please contact Daniel Reynolds in the Media and Public Relations Office on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927, or Michael Moruzzi on 020 7307 2585.

2. The King's Fund launches a new public health programme on 18 March 2004 setting out ideas for developing structures, incentives and ways of working to focus on improving health rather than just treating ill health.