APPG for Longevity: HLE+5 consultation response

As our population continues to age it is more important than ever to look at how more people can live healthy independent lives in later life. There are environmental, social, economic and political factors that can impact public health.

Ensuring more people can enjoy five more years of healthy life expectancy in later life is a major challenge. Government policy will need to adapt to recognise the health and care demands of all generations in our society to make this ambition become a reality. As the Government consults on its prevention strategy, it should recognise the need for better cross-government action and more collaboration with local authorities to tackle regional health inequalities. More progress can also be achieved by embracing new technology and harnessing the value of data far more intelligently to deliver better health outcomes and make progress to achieving increased healthy life expectancy.

Outside the Westminster bubble, HLE+5 will need to think about the divide in health outcomes between deprived and affluent communities, and how society as a whole can close that gap. Poverty is a major public health challenge. If the strategy is going to be successful, it will need to set out a response that addresses the specific health challenges faced by low-income communities to improve the nation’s overall healthy life expectancy in later life. We discuss how legislation might be the route to achieve such increases.

Our response also looks at how we can encourage younger generations to think more positively about the opportunities presented in later life, devolving more power to the regions so that they can take more control of local public health matters and the role of Whitehall to deliver a more coordinated approach to improve life expectancy.

This consultation submission is informed by our own research findings, consideration of new and emerging ideas about our ageing population, and how lifestyle changes in middle age are critical if a healthy later life is going to be achieved.

Read our consultation submission here.

Recommendations

We believe that in order for HLE+5 to be a successful strategy, it will need to consider the following recommendations in order to influence Government policy at this critical juncture as public health is a growing national priority:

Recommendation 1: HLE+5 to call on the Government to launch a new national public health campaign that promotes a positive vision for later life.

Recommendation 2: HLE+5 to encourage the Government to conduct a new review into public perceptions about ageing to understand what different age groups believe are the benefits of later life.

Recommendation 3: HLE+5 should recommend that the Government develops a new framework for interventions specifically designed to deal with regional health and care inequalities alongside its public health strategy.

Recommendation 4: HLE+5 should call on the Government to convene a cross-government group of Permanent Secretaries to coordinate health promotion in Whitehall.

Recommendation 5: HLE+5 will prioritise a policy response to reduce the health gap between wealthy and deprived areas by calling for greater investment to tackle loneliness and poor diet, and resources to ensure communities cater for age and mobility as people age.

Recommendation 6: Local authorities to use the scope of the general power of competence established under the Localism Act 2011 to innovate in challenging circumstances in order to create new/improved data-driven models for health and care provision.

Recommendation 7: HLE+5 to advocate further devolution of health and care spending, in line with the Greater Manchester model, to all regions across the country that were not part of the original 2014/2015 Devolution Deals.

Recommendation 8: HLE+5 to recommend that MHCLG collaborate with PHE to deliver locally targeted public health initiatives with local government. The Cabinet Office should also take greater oversight of public health implementation across Whitehall in collaboration with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

Recommendation 9: HLE+5 to call for a new blueprint where specific membership bodies for health and care charities are incentivised to work with their members by the Government through a new fund to generate ideas and coordinate action at a grassroots level to address barriers to improved life expectancy.

Recommendation 10: HLE+5 should include a strategic plan for the use of data and explore the scope to recycle financial value from the broad-ranging data assets the NHS controls to ensure those people and organisations that often serve the most disadvantaged are not left behind by the data-driven revolution in health and care.

Recommendation 11: HLE+5 to call for employers to join a Carers Coalition to improve the work-life-care balance of unpaid carers – a key group in society that could help support increases in healthy life expectancy amongst older people.

Recommendation 12: HLE+5 to advocate the establishment of a new independent body, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility which assesses the sustainability of public finances, to set projections for healthy life expectancy and hold the Government to account for future funding and policy decisions specifically for public health interventions.

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