Extra investment into primary and community NHS services would send back tens of billions of pounds in additional investment into the wider economy, research has shown.
For every £1 invested in community or primary care, there is a potential return of up to £14 back into the local economy through gross value added (GVA), which measures the total value of goods and services an economy produces.
Researchers suggested ICS leaders should therefore be given more flexibility in how they allocate resources to create ‘health value’.
Commissioned by the NHS Confederation and conducted by consultancy Carnall Farrar, assessed where the greatest returns on investment in the NHS arise.
The research showed that between 2015 and 2019, localities in England that increased how much they spent on primary and community care the most saw much higher GVA than those who invested the least.
Researchers suggested that £1bn could generate £14bn in growth, meaning additional taxation revenues would have more than paid for the original NHS investment.
The NHS Confederation said the particularly high returns in these areas reflects the raised level of contact these services have with local people.
The report also recommended NHS England prioritise any addition spending in non-acute settings.
Commenting on the findings, NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘These significant findings show clearly that investment in the NHS, particularly in primary and community care, is very beneficial to the wider economy.
‘While we know that bringing down waiting lists is important, if we only focus on what happens in hospitals then the risk is that we are constantly fighting an unwinnable war at the most downstream end of the care process. Instead, we need to start delivering on the long-term aspiration to shift resources upstream into prevention, primary and community settings. This new kind data makes an unarguable case for which forms of investment have the greatest potential benefit not just for patients but for wider society.’
He added: ‘The message for the Government as its starts to consider is autumn statement is clear: without the necessary investment upstream in prevention and in primary and community care it will be difficult to make the crucial shift to preventing ill health in the first place or to maximise the wider benefits of health spending.’