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ICSs to support IPPR commission into improving health policy

Data NHS workforce

By Jess Hacker
28 April 2022

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The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has launched a year-long commission into improving the working relationship between the NHS, public services and local government.

Supported by the NHS Confederation, the commission – which launched today (28 April) – will see integrated care systems (ICSs) work in ‘close collaboration’ with the IPPR.

It will also be supported by commissioners from across economics, business, politics, and academia.

The thinktank will publish several interim reports on its finding, including on:

  • How economic and social policy can drive improvements in health
  • How communities can be supported to take control of their own health
  • How to transition the NHS from an ‘illness services’ to ‘a genuine health service’

The launch was supported by a new IPPR report which suggested that ineffective policies mean people are living shorter lives, spending more years in poor health, and facing greater barriers to staying in work.

It found that people living in the most economically deprived parts of the country – such as Blackpool, Knowsley and Barking & Dagenham – would expect to fall into poor health in their 50s: five years earlier than the national average.

The IPPR called for a new post-pandemic approach to the nation’s health focused on addressing economic and health disparities.

It also argued that politicians have treated spending on health as ‘a cost to be contained’ rather than as a means to support and boost the economy.

For example, if the UK met the health outcomes of Japan, people would stay in good health for four additional years on average, boosting the country’s overall productivity by 1.2%.

Responding to the report, Matthew Taylor, NHS Confederation chief executive and commission member, flagged that the disparities highlighted by the pandemic ‘have not suddenly appeared’.

He said: ‘As millions of people now face the reality of a cost-of-living crisis there is an urgent need for a much bolder and more strident approach to tackling inequalities to create improved population health and stronger economic wellbeing.

‘NHS leaders know all too well the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people living in more deprived areas, and from ethnic minority backgrounds but systemic inequality was an issue long before the pandemic and it is vital that it is addressed once and for all.’

ONS data published earlier this week revealed that women born in the poorest areas of England are expected to live nearly two decades with poorer health compared to those in the most well-off areas.

And a recent report indicate that nearly nine-in-10 private acute healthcare staff cite growing NHS waiting times as the most important factor driving patients to pay for private healthcare services.

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