Most people won’t argue with prevention being better than cure. But is evidence strong enough to make the investment? Is the money even there when the evidence is strong enough?
I’m beginning to think it’s smoke and mirrors. With every intervention we create, it seems that we taketh away too. The NHS I always think has some of the strongest success stories in prevention. Through Public Health initiatives we see people’s behaviours change and subsequent improvements in health outcomes that impact positively not just on lives, but on the bottom line too.
So too in my arena, there are some pretty simply and inexpensive things that can be done to ensure young people remain housed. Homelessness impacts on all of us after all, as well as all the services that are under acute strain. A homeless person is more likely to use emergency health services, mental health provision, criminal justice services, the benefits system and more.
Whilst many of us in the third sector should and could do even better to prove our worth and ‘spend to save’ argument it just doesn’t seem to carry the weight it had even ten years ago.
Most of the positive impact we have is cross-departmental and long term. The strain on silo budgets is not.
So whilst every homelessness strategy in Norfolk will cite their prevention intentions, children’s services will talk of independence outcomes for care-leavers and the NHS knows it makes sense to prevent preventable diseases, the pressures are too immediate and too acute.
If austerity really did end tomorrow the legacy of these spending ‘choices’ will affect generations to come.