Systematic review suggests that local and national public health interventions are highly cost-saving | Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Background Public sector austerity measures in many high-income countries mean that public health budgets are reducing year on year. To help inform the potential impact of these proposed disinvestments in public health, we set out to determine the return on investment (ROI) from a range of existing public health interventions.
We conducted systematic searches on all relevant databases (including MEDLINE; EMBASE; CINAHL; AMED; PubMed, Cochrane and Scopus) to identify studies that calculated a ROI or cost-benefit ratio (CBR) for public health interventions in high-income countries.
We identified 2957 titles, and included 52 studies. The median ROI for public health interventions was 14.3 to 1, and median CBR was 8.3. The median ROI for all 29 local public health interventions was 4.1 to 1, and median CBR was 10.3. Even larger benefits were reported in 28 studies analysing nationwide public health interventions; the median ROI was 27.2, and median CBR was 17.5.
This systematic review suggests that local and national public health interventions are highly cost-saving. Cuts to public health budgets in high income countries therefore represent a false economy, and are likely to generate billions of pounds of additional costs to health services and the wider economy.
New report from the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) identifies early warning signs that austerity will affect health outcomes for decades to come.
A team of researchers at ILC-UK has written ‘Public health in Europe during the austerity years’. Using a number of independent data sources, the report finds that progress on a number of key health indicators has stalled, including life expectancy and mortality rates. The report indicates that levels of subjective health have fallen among young people aged 15 – 24 across Europe, and in all age-groups in the UK.
Cuts to preventative medicine in England, such as tobacco control programmes and sexual health services, were highlighted as austerity measures which could impact the health of young people decades into the future.
Key findings include:
Improvements to life expectancy and mortality rates have slowed across Europe during austerity years (2009 – 13)
The UK has seen the greatest fall in subjective health, with people of all ages reporting a decline in their general health
As a result of increasing medical costs and declining personal income, a number of countries experienced rising unmet medical needs.
Study published in the British Medical Journal suggests cuts to public funding of health and social care since 2010 could be linked to almost 120,000 excess deaths in England | BMJ | OnMedica
The study reports that between 2010 and 2014, the NHS in England had a real-term annual increase in funding of 1.3%, despite rising patient demand and healthcare costs. Real-term spend on social care has fallen by 1.19% every year during the same period.
Researchers compared actual death rates for 2011 to 2014 with those that would be expected, based on trends before spending cuts came into play, and taking account of national and economic factors, such as unemployment rates and pensions.
The researchers’ analysis of the data showed that between 2001 and 2010, deaths in England fell by an average of 0.77% every year, but rose by an average of 0.87% every year between 2011 and 2014.
The spending restraints were associated with 45,368 higher than expected numbers of deaths between 2010 and 2014 compared with equivalent trends before 2010.
The Beyond Places of Safety fund will focus on improving urgent mental healthcare in local areas | Department of Health
The Department of Health has launched a £15 million fund to better support people at risk of experiencing a mental health crisis.
The Beyond Places of Safety scheme aims to improve support services for those needing urgent and emergency mental healthcare. This includes conditions such as psychosis, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders that could cause people to be a risk to themselves or others.
In this Public Health Matters blog, John Newton and Brian Ferguson explore the economic case for prevention, acknowledging that more than ever before, ‘public health’ has to make the strongest possible economic case for what it does.