Prevention and the NHS Long Term Plan

A woman in an aqua aerobics class

The NHS Long Term Plan is our opportunity to not only treat people, but to help people prevent getting ill in the first place.

Every 24 hours, the NHS will care for over a million patients and their families. We strive to care for people in the best way possible, but also have the chance to help them make more healthy choices and improve their lifestyles.

By helping people make different choices we can improve their chances of a longer healthier life, enabling families to stay together for longer. This will also reduce the number of people needing to use the NHS. This will mean that the NHS can be there for those people who need it, when they need it.

The Long Term Plan sets out practical actions that will better support people to improve their health and treat avoidable illness early on.  We know, for example, if someone starts smoking as they become an adult, they will likely die 10 years earlier than someone who hasn’t smoked. By stopping smoking people can reduce the risk of getting many diseases including heart and lung diseases.  Even if someone already has incurable cancer, quitting smoking when they find out can double the length of time they live. Over the five years our new services will help more people quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight and get their alcohol intake within healthy limits.

The NHS Long Term Plan means action to improve prevention will ensure that by the end of March 2024:

  • Everyone who has to stay overnight in hospital is given the chance and provided with help to quit smoking
  • Every pregnant woman is offered face to face support to help stop smoking which will benefit not only them, but also their unborn child
  • People that use outpatient services for conditions that are made a lot worse by smoking (for example, cancer, mental health and respiratory services) are also given help to stop smoking
  • We want to make sure that more people are able to access support to help control their diabetes
  • In the areas of greatest need, we want to help more people to attend weight management services, especially those who are obese and have another condition such as high blood pressure
  • In the areas of greatest need, we want to ensure people admitted to hospital with alcohol related problems can be cared for by specialist Alcohol Care Teams
  • We continue to use antibiotics sensibly so that are still available for future generations
  • We will provide digital tools such as smartphone apps to enable more people to access online NHS services and support self-management

Case study

Alcohol-related harm is estimated to cost the NHS in England £3.5 billion every year.

An Alcohol Care Team (ACT) set up and trialed in Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals in early 2018.

An effective care pathway was established with the community alcohol service and after six months of the trial, the trust accepted the business case to fund the continuation of the ACT and the community service saw a reversal of its falling numbers in treatment.

Early data estimates a financial saving (due to admission prevention and reduced length of hospital stay) of £133,200 in the first six months.