Liverpool scientists, as part of an international consortium, have found that progress in preventing premature deaths is below average compared to other countries in Europe.
The report from researchers at the Universities of Liverpool and Washington, in collaboration with several other institutions across the UK, have shown that premature death from diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancers, require improved public health prevention, intervention and treatment methods.
Research also showed that the burden on the NHS from increasing numbers of people with disabilities, ranging from mental disorder to substance use, could be reduced through an integrated approach to the conditions.
The report, which examined the past 20 years of health data, highlighted smoking-related illnesses as high priority, due to the number of deaths from heart disease and lung cancer, as well as deaths connected to Alzheimer’s disease.
Although the UK, has seen substantial improvements in the amount of premature mortality, disability and life expectancy, compared to European neighbours it is worse than the average and its relative position has declined since 1990.
Professor Nigel Bruce, from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: “The UK does very well in some areas of public health and has made significant steps in controlling tobacco use for example, but as well as reacting to disease through effective health services, we also need to do more to prevent them in the first place.
Social and economic factors
“Preventable diseases such as heart disease and lung conditions, as well as risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure and lack of exercise need a more focused effort to achieve the more positive health levels of the UK’s neighbouring countries. Life expectancy in the UK has increased over the years, but we want them to be long-years of good health.
“Compared to a number of other European countries in the study, the UK still has some work to do to support people in being able to lead healthy lifestyles. This also means addressing the underlying social and economic factors including diet, housing, poverty, environment, and their inequalities across society.”