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Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy Backs Lord Bird’s NHS Agenda

Lord O’Shaughnessy says the Big Issue founder is right to champion NHS reform focusing on the prevention of health problems

A government health minister has said Big Issue founder Lord John Bird was “quite right” to champion a new, preventative approach to health care in the NHS.

Lord Bird, now a crossbench peer, raised the importance of investing in and supporting services that prevent health problems as a means of saving over the long-term during a House of Lords debate earlier this week.

“What we’ve got to do is push up the prevention [spending] amount,” said Lord Bird. “Is the minister prepared to come and talk to MPs and Lords who want to push up the prevention methodology?”

We need to move from an NHS that is dealing with illness to one that is promoting health care

Acknowledging Bird was “quite right,” Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “We need to move from an NHS that is dealing with illness to one that is promoting health care, and preventive health care is a huge part of that.”

“We are providing over £16 billion of public health funding for local authorities over the spending review to do that, and I’d be delighted to meet any peers and MPs who wanted to talk about that further,” he added.

Lord Bird recently wrote in his weekly column for The Big Issue that “prevention is the best of all cures ever invented.”

Lord Nigel Crisp, the former chief executive of the NHS, set out his plan for reforming the UK’s ailing health service in our magazine. He too wants a prevention-based model – one that moves away from dependence on hospitals to a community based approach focused on creation health for all of us.

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