Millennials and baby-boomers agree that education and work can help them keep healthy, report shows

26 October 2018

Not everyone feels investment in hospitals and medical services is the best way to spend the billions of pounds devoted to healthcare, says a new poll of 3,000 adults.

To mark the 70th birthday of the NHS, Learning and Work Institute asked adults in England about their health, their understanding of how to stay healthy, and what changes they think would positively contribute to their health.

In the polling, when asked about their top three priorities for future spending, just over one third of adults (36%) called for more investment in hospitals and medical services, while one quarter of adults (24%) identified a need for better health information and education.

One in five adults suggested: better in-work support for people with health problems and disabilities (21%); and said that health professionals should play a greater role in encouraging health living (21%). There should be more opportunities for people to learn and be active in their communities (19%); and an expansion of community services (19%).

Respondents’ ages contributed to the answers they gave: people under the age of 25 tended to put a higher value on preventative models, such as social prescribing and community health initiatives, rather than investment in hospitals and medical care. Around a quarter of adults aged under 45 said they would like more opportunities to learn and be active in their communities, and the same number wanted better information and education about their health compared to just 16% of the whole population.

Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute, said:

“While the focus on hospitals and medical services among the elderly and those in poorer health is understandable, the focus on public health among much of the working age population is particularly important in a context where we are living and working for longer and people are required to take much more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

Through Learning and Work Institute’s annual participation in learning survey, we know that taking part in learning declines with age, however we also know that as we get older we are more likely to learn for personal reasons, such as for our health.

Our findings come at a critical time when government has pledged more funding for the NHS. Learning, skills and employment support need to be a central part of improving health, reducing demands on the health service, and an integral part of meeting the challenges of the next 70 years. Giving everyone, regardless of their background, a fairer chance in life.”

Download the full report ‘Learning, work and health: the next 70 years’.