The Chancellor’s Spring Statement had to address a number of concerns. The most immediate is the state of the country’s finances particularly as we face Brexit turmoil. But he also had to address long term economic issues such as productivity and the regional gap. Productivity is lower in the North. Health is also worse in the North.
Last week I met the Northern Health Science Alliance to discuss how improving health in the North can boost the economy. Long-term health conditions lead to economic inactivity and ill health increases the chance of job loss and often lower wages when returning to work. Improving in work health could bring substantial economic gains.
Part of the answer is investing more in the NHS in the North particularly in public health which is currently facing real term cuts. It also means addressing the cuts facing local authorities. Local Health and Wellbeing Boards for example have a key role to play in preventing and managing conditions.
The NHSA also want structural change. Most health research funding goes into a “Golden Triangle” of Universities in London and the South. We have excellent Universities of our own, excellent Health Trusts and good local authorities. The challenge is to get potential funders to see the North’s potential, to get partners in the North to work more collaboratively and to use the forthcoming Northern Powerhouse review to recognise the economic as well as human benefit of better health.