The Public’s Health
When 20/20health launched in 2006 we committed to the ambition of Making Health Personal. Our intention was to increase public knowledge and agency through information sharing and by promoting personal control in matters of health and wellbeing. We also sought to inform policymakers and NHS decision making with our strong focus on access, equity, quality of care and sustainability.
The parallel policy narrative of the time, espoused by many in healthcare, was ‘putting patients at the centre’ and ‘putting patients first’. The pandemic has shown this to be a continuing aspiration in terms of keeping patients and the public informed, respecting personal choice, prioritising the vulnerable, and responding to needs promptly and equitably. But if this sums up the outstanding response to COVID-19 by our NHS, we cannot escape the realities of a health system buckling under enormous strain.
Services cannot always provide urgent or safe care, waiting lists for elective care are at their highest recorded level, national screening programmes have been substantially disrupted, and the prevalence of mental illness among children has risen dramatically.
There are no easy answers to this crisis. But what we can do is continue to advocate for people’s needs, create opportunities for voices to be heard, and ensure robust evidence supports NHS decision making, personal control and the protection of the public’s health.