HC Deb 21 March 1989 vol 149 c566W
29. Mr. Michael

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his policy regarding the balance to be sought between treatment and prevention at all levels of the Health Service.

Mr. Mellor

We are as much concerned to prevent ill-health and promote good health as we are to ensure that treatment is available to all who fall ill. Not all illness is preventable. Where it is, however, we seek to ensure that the appropriate preventive services are provided (vaccina-tion and immunisation, for example) or that steps are taken to give people the best possible advice on how to look after their health. It is not possible, or indeed appropriate, to try to quantify the balance between preventive and curative activity. Nor is it always possible to differentiate between them. A doctor treating a patient, for example, might well take the opportunity to offer advice about changing to a healthier lifestyle and I would expect any patient recovering from a heart attack to be given advice about steps to try to prevent a recurrence. Nevertheless, it must always be better to try to prevent ill health in the first place than to have to cure, or care for it later. Prevention of ill health and promotion of good health are therefore major priorities for the Government and the Health Service.