Prevention in the 2020s: where is primary care?

Blane, D. N. , Williamson, A. E. , MacDonald, S. and O'Donnell, C. A. (2020) Prevention in the 2020s: where is primary care? British Journal of General Practice, 70(697), pp. 376-377. (doi: 10.3399/bjgp20x711809) (PMID:32732193)

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The 2020s will be the decade of ‘proactive, predictive, and personalised prevention’, according to the UK Government’s recent green paper on preventing ill health.1 The 78-page report describes a large range of initiatives to be implemented in the coming decade in England, including a ‘portfolio of new innovative projects’, an evidence-based review of NHS Health Checks, a new National Genomics Healthcare Strategy, a ban on selling energy drinks to under-16s, and new strategies using ‘intelligent’ technology-driven screening programmes to prevent sexually transmitted infections and to increase uptake of vaccination. It also sets a target for England to be smoke free by 2030 and promises a new ‘Composite Health Index’, as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer for England in her 2018 annual report, to track the nation’s wellbeing and assess the health impacts of wider government policies.2 Many of these proposals are welcome — technology certainly has a key role to play in the future of health care, as outlined previously in the BJGP 3,4 — but the report has not been without its critics. In particular, it has been widely criticised for lacking action and ambition on food and obesity, and has no mention of a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.5 We believe it is also weakened by insufficient attention to the role of primary care, to support and action on improving the social determinants of health, and to action targeting marginalised groups. Unless these gaps are addressed, the government’s proposals for ‘personalised prevention’ will benefit a select few and will see health inequalities widen.

Item Type:Articles (Editorial)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Blane, Dr David and Williamson, Professor Andrea and O'Donnell, Professor Kate and Macdonald, Professor Sara
Authors: Blane, D. N., Williamson, A. E., MacDonald, S., and O'Donnell, C. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:British Journal of General Practice
Publisher:Royal College of General Practitioners
ISSN (Online):1478-5242
Published Online:30 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 British Journal of General Practice
First Published:First published in British Journal of General Practice 70(697):376-377
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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