Making prevention a priority: How healthy living and early detection are now at the heart of NHS strategy

‘Prevention is better than cure’ it’s an old saying, but new emphasis is now being placed on the idea in the NHS.

So much so that in July 2019 the government published a Prevention Green Paper, which labelled the 2020s as the decade of “proactive, predictive, and personalised prevention”.

It shifts the emphasis from life span to ‘health span’. Instead of focusing on life expectancy, it looks at boosting amount of time people enjoy good health.

The cornerstones of the new health strategy, part of the NHS Long Term Plan, are:

So how do we put prevention at the heart of health care? Here are some examples of the innovations in approach and treatment that are answering that question.

Everyone has to buy in

In this blog post, chief executive of Public Health England Duncan Selbie argues that prevention must be at the forefront of all national and local policies and is “everyone’s responsibility, from the NHS to employers, schools, local authorities and individuals”.

Targeted early intervention is working

Several London boroughs are investing in expert special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) practitioners who help schools maintain children with more challenging needs in a mainstream setting. And it turns out to be money well spent, as research shows that this intervention has prevented “needs escalating and lead to better outcomes for children and young people”.

AI is reaping results


Artificial intelligence has a growing role in health care, particularly for early detection. For example a mobile medical assistant called Streams at the Free London NHS Foundation Trust spots patient deterioration and can communicate instantly with clinical teams. It has delivered some impressive outcomes.

Changing the landscape

Planners and architects are now actively working on ways to make cities happier and healthier, and design out isolation – and their early results are promising.

Stopping self harm

Phone app BlueIce is prescribed to young people to help them manage extreme anxiety and other negative emotions. After just 12 weeks, three quarters of the young people assessed had either stopped or reduced their self-harming as a result of the app.

What we do: Health and social care

Qa Research undertakes a wide range of research, insight and evaluation studies for organisations operating within the health and social care sector.

This includes Clinical Commissioning Groups, Public Health teams, private hospital brands, charities and NHS Trusts.

We offer a wide range of services including public consultation, patient satisfaction surveys, PROMS studies, service design and co-development, digital transformation and inclusion studies and much more.

Find out more about the work we’ve done within the health and social care sector by Richard Bryan on