Long-term Sickness Work Absences Pose Fiscal Threat to UK

According to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) for its Commission on Health and Prosperity, long-term sickness has become a “serious fiscal threat” to the UK due to absences from work. The report argues that action is needed to reform health and social care and that there is the chance to deliver a once-in-a-generation NHS reform to restrain killer costs and end second-rate care.

Record high of long-term sickness

The IPPR report found that the number of people outside the labour market due to sickness is currently at a record high of 2.6 million. Those behind the study said health and social care services have a leading role to play in making the country healthier and “more prosperous” but are currently failing to do so. “There is no road to prosperity for this nation without tackling the tide of sickness head-on” the institute stated.

The report argues that a rising demand in care requests is being met with a shrinking number of care providers and that the quality of care has fallen. The findings also reveal that cancer survival rates are lower in the UK than in other Western nations, while deaths from dementia are higher.

“The number of deaths that could have been avoided with timely healthcare or public health interventions is much higher in the UK than in all other comparable European nations. We estimate that if the UK had an avoidable mortality rate similar to those in comparable European countries, around 240,000 fewer people would have died in the decade from 2010.”

NHS waiting times

The study puts some of the blame on the inability to access care in a timely way and rising NHS waiting lists. Recently it was found that there has been a staggering surge in waiting lists, with a record-breaking 7.6 million individuals awaiting essential medical treatment, constituting an alarming one in eight people in England. Moreover, 85% of patients are awaiting crucial decisions regarding their medical care.  

Moreover, the report argues that despite a fall in service performance, service expenditure has been rising. On the post-pandemic trajectory, new modelling commissioned for this report finds government healthcare spending in England is on course to rise from 9% of GDP to 11.2%of GDP by 2033/34.

The Plan

The report established a 10-point plan which said there is a need to prevent future ill-health through creating neighbourhood health hubs to deliver integrated services. It also proposed a social care guarantee, “delivered by replacing unfair user charges with free personal care and driving up the quality of providers”.

There should also be a new deal for health and care workers, “from better take-home pay to stronger worker rights, to retain and remotivate the workforce”.

The IPPR report said the reforms could save taxpayers up to £205 billion over the next decade and that annual saving is worth the equivalent of the current UK defence budget by 2033/34.

Former health minister Lord Ara Darzi, who is co-chairman of the IPPR Commission on Health and Prosperity, said: “The NHS and social care system is vital to our individual and national health and prosperity. Too many people are struggling to get high-quality care when they need it most. As a result, there are growing calls for us to change our ‘free at the point of need’ system. But now is not the time to abandon the principles which underpin the NHS. Instead, we must renew and extend them in order to deliver better health, a stronger economy and a fairer society. This report sets out a plan to achieve this.”

Curia’s NHS and Life Sciences Commission

Following the successful launch of the NHS Innovation and Life Sciences Commission’s 2022 Report, the Commission will appraise the outlined recommendations in 2023. This will allow a measurement of success to be taken on each implementation and a review of new priorities for the NHS and life sciences industry. The Commission will continue to review case studies to highlight best practice for the 2022 recommendations. Through a series of sprints, the Commission will highlight real-world experiences in regions across the UK. Through targeted health data mapping, relevant areas of unmet need and health inequalities can be chosen. Each sprint may appraise one or multiple topic areas from the 2022 report.

Upcoming event

Join Members of Parliament, NHS and council leaders, representatives of regional government, industry and the third sector for a unique seminar in Birmingham with keynote speakers:

  • Andy Street – Mayor of the West Midlands
  • Preet Kaur Gill MP – Shadow Minister and MP for Edgbaston
  • Paulette Hamilton MP – Health and Social Care Select Committee
  • Professor Sir Bruce Keogh – Chair, Birmingham Women and Children’s Trust
  • Amanda Sullivan – CEO, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB
  • Naomi Eisenstadt CB – Chair, Northamptonshire ICB
  • Tapiwa Mtemachani – Director of Strategic Transformation, Black Country ICB
  • Michelle McManus – Director of Transformation and Place Development, Walsall Together
  • Kerrie Allward – Director of Adult Social Care, Walsall Council
  • Connie Jennings – Director of Stronger Communities, WHG

As the only meeting of its kind in the UK, the Integrating Healthcare Seminar series brings together Members of Parliament, Councillors and NHS Leaders to showcase examples of best practice and case studies for others to learn from.

This special ‘Integrating Healthcare’ Midlands Seminar –will focus on improving population health, addressing health inequalities and specific therapeutic areas.

For a fireside discussion, we are pleased to welcome Professor Sir Bruce Keogh and Naomi Eisenstadt CB, talking about How Providers and Commissioners Collaborate to Drive Improved Outcomes. They are keen to hear from you as NHS leaders about your views and thoughts. They want to find out your views and see what more can be done to implement their reviews in practice.

Network with and hear from thought leaders on how the UK can integrate healthcare and improve outcomes across the region and the wider UK.

In partnership with NHS England and the AHSN networks, you will hear the latest in exciting case studies that are transforming the nature of care at a local level.

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