Nav: Home

Every £1 spent on public health in UK saves average of £14

March 29, 2017

Every £1.00 spent on public health returns an extra £14 on the original investment, on average--and in some cases, significantly more than that--concludes a systematic review of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The recent cuts made to public health budgets in the UK are therefore a "false economy" and are set to cost an already overstretched NHS and the wider economy "billions," conclude the researchers, who warn other countries to think again before going down a similar route to claw back cash.

Prompted by recent rounds of austerity measures in high income countries on what are often perceived as 'soft targets' for cuts, the researchers decided to find out the average return on investment (ROI) for a range of public health interventions.

They therefore trawled research databases to identify studies that had calculated an ROI for local and national public health initiatives and/or had worked out the overall value for money of a project or proposal--otherwise known as the cost-benefit ratio, or CBR for short.

Out of nearly 3000 articles, they found 52 suitable studies, published over four decades, and covering 29 different different types of intervention relating to the UK, Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

These included initiatives designed to protect the public's health or promote good health, as well as legislation.

Critical analysis of the data from these studies showed that the average ROI for a public health initiative was 14.3 for every unit cost spent on it, while the average CBR was 8.3.

When the overall impact of all 29 interventions was assessed, the ROI on local initiatives was 4.1, meaning that every £1 spent returns £4 plus the original £1 investment, while the average CBR was 10.3.

Even larger benefits accrued for national policies, reported by 28 studies. Analysis of the data from these showed that the average ROI was 27.2 while the average CBR was 17.2.

Their results "clearly demonstrate that public health interventions are cost-saving, both to health services as well as the wider economy," write the researchers, who point out that some interventions can produce substantial returns within 6 to 12 months--falls prevention, for example.

Furthermore, they calculate that the recent £200 million cuts to public health funding in the UK will cost more like eight times as much--£1.6 billion.

These figures prompt them to comment: "The UK government's 'efficiency savings' thus represent a false economy which will generate many billions in additional future costs to the ailing NHS and wider UK economy."

They add: "The recent UK increases in (avoidable) teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, homelessness and suicides are thus predictable and worrying. Do they represent harbingers of worse to come?"

And they warn: "Although this study draws on the experience of the UK public health system, there are implications for public health systems outside of the UK, which may be guided towards areas of potential underinvestment, and avoid harmful cuts in public health budgets."
-end-


BMJ

Related Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Generous health insurance plans encourage overtreatment, but may not improve health
Offering comprehensive health insurance plans with low deductibles and co-pay in exchange for higher annual premiums seems like a good value for the risk averse, and a profitable product for insurance companies.
The Lancet Planetary Health: Food, climate, greenhouse gas emissions and health
Increasing temperatures, water scarcity, availability of agricultural land, biodiversity loss and climate change threaten to reverse health gains seen over the last century.
With health insurance at risk, community health centers face cut-backs
Repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, combined with a failure to renew critical funding streams, would result in catastrophic funding losses for community health centers-forcing these safety net providers to cut back on services, lay off staff or shut down clinical sites, according to a report published today.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Tailored preventive oral health intervention improves dental health among elderly
A tailored preventive oral health intervention significantly improved the cleanliness of teeth and dentures among elderly home care clients.
Study finds that people are attracted to outward signs of health, not actual health
Findings published in the journal Behavioral Ecology reveal that skin with yellow and red pigments is perceived as more attractive in Caucasian males, but this skin coloring does not necessarily signal actual good health.
In the January Health Affairs: Brazil's primary health care expansion
The January issue of Health Affairs includes a study that explores a much-discussed issue in global health: the role of governance in improving health, which is widely recognized as necessary but is difficult to tie to actual outcomes.
University of Rochester and West Health Collaborate on d.health Summit 2017
In collaboration with West Health, the University of Rochester is hosting the third annual d.health Summit, a forum for health care and technology leaders, entrepreneurs, senior care advocates and policymakers to exchange ideas, create new partnerships, and foster disruptive technological and process innovations to improve the lives of the nation's aging population.
Study links health literacy to higher levels of health insurance coverage
The federal Affordable Care Act is intended to make it easier for individuals to buy health insurance, but are the uninsured equipped to navigate the choices faced in the insurance marketplace?

Related Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...