Increasing spending on the NHS and social care will not change health inequalities and improve life expectancy on its own, a report by The King’s Fund has said.

The document, A vision for population health: Towards a healthier future, said that improvements in life expectancy have ‘ground to a halt’ and in some parts of the UK it has been falling.

Setting out its vision for population health to make it on par with the best in the world, the independent think tank has created a framework for action, based on four pillars. These are the wider determinants of health; health behaviours and lifestyles; places and communities in which we live; and an integrated health and care system.

While the concept is not the new, the report said ‘efforts in relation to the pillars are not in balance and there is not enough focus on the pillars as interconnecting parts of the same system.’

It recommends change in three main areas; stronger leadership in population health, greater clarity about the roles and responsibilities of NHS England and Public Health England in particular, and the need to rebalance resources between the four pillars in the framework, starting with restoring and protecting public health funding.

While welcoming Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s prevention strategy, which was outlined earlier this year, The King’s Fund said the ‘need for action is now’.

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