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Views And Reviews

The prevention green paper: blink and you’ll miss it

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 30 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4913
  1. Adam Briggs, public health specialty registrar,
  2. Tim Elwell-Sutton, assistant director of strategic partnerships
  1. The Health Foundation, UK
  1. Adam.Briggs{at}

We were hoping for something bold and ambitious. In the end, it’s a missed opportunity

On a Monday night in July, shortly before Boris Johnson became our new prime minister, the government released its much anticipated green paper on prevention. This was done with no fanfare; not even a press release.

Published amid reports of a row between the health secretary Matt Hancock and outgoing prime minister Theresa May, it’s probably unsurprising that the paper lacks ambition.

Matt Hancock’s original prevention vision took aim at the Ageing Society Grand Challenge mission—five years of additional healthy life expectancy by 2035 while narrowing inequalities. This mission was published at a time of unprecedented stalling in healthy life expectancy and widening of health inequalities, and the green paper now sensibly admits that it “will not deliver the whole …

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