A new report from WA Health has found that two thirds of MPs think the NHS should “direct more resources towards prevention, rather than increasing funding for new treatments.”
The study, informed by a cross-party YouGov poll of 100 parliamentarians, suggests that MPs are in full support of health secretary Matt Hancock’s vision of an NHS spending less on medicines and more on shifting the NHS’ attention to prevention as part of the Long Term Plan.
A further 49% of MPs said that they are confident that the NHS Long Term Plan will be successful in improving the prevention of ill health and disease, while 79% think the pharmaceutical sector has a legitimate role in implementing the NHS’s prevention agenda.
Despite this, just 27% view predictive prevention such as genomic testing as one of their top three priorities for the prevention agenda.
In the same poll, 43% stated they “would not be concerned” that patients would receive a poorer quality of treatment if the NHS shifts too much resource towards prevention, suggesting that MPs do not see a direct correlation between medicines spending and quality of treatment.
When asked to define the main priorities for prevention, MPs chose topics such as physical activity and diet rather than those where pharma traditionally plays a role.
“These findings make clear that prevention is now one of the biggest political factors driving the healthcare debate with parliamentarians. That the majority of MPs are happy to see funding for new treatments reduced in favour of the prevention agenda is likely to put further pressure on industry," said WA health director Caroline Gordon said.
"The NHS is undergoing a significant shift towards prevention – pharma must change with it and showcase the crucial role it can play in health and wellbeing.”
The report notes that the NHS Long Term Plan is ‘just the beginning’ of an attempted shift towards prevention, with a further Green Paper and actions plans due out in the coming months.