King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said: 'There is a juggernaut heading for the NHS with the obesity and diabetes epidemic, worsening rates of binge drinking and the worrying rise in sexually transmitted disease. We are all just beginning to wake up to the fact that the vast amount of time and money that has been invested in trying to make our health service more efficient will be to no avail if high levels of preventable illness hit us over the next 10 to 20 years.
King's Fund health director Anna Coote said: 'The report marks a step change in health policy. For the first time, the Treasury is pointing to the enormous value to society and to the national economy of turning the NHS from a sickness service into a health service, with a primary focus on prevention rather than on cure. It calls for a coherent public health framework across government, with health care organisations a nd local councils working more closely together.
'Derek Wanless has set out some useful principles and pointers. The real challenge now is to make sure the right incentives are in place across government so that actions are taken that really make a difference. Let's hope the Department of Health and other government departments can rise to that challenge.'
The King's Fund launches a new public health programme on 18 March 2004 setting out ideas for developing structures, incentives and ways of working to focus on improving health rather than just treating ill health.