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Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, 2018 Health 2040 – Better Health Within Reach

This year for my annual report, I have chosen to focus upon the health of the public in England in 2040. The NHS is often a source of national pride, but despite this, a narrative of health being a cost to society prevails. As the late Hans Rosling said, “When things are getting better we often don’t hear about them. This gives us a systematically too-negative impression of the world around us, which is very stressful.”

This report offers cause for optimism and I conclude that it is realistic to aspire to better and more equitable health in the next 20 years. As the NHS has developed its long-term plan for the coming ten years, this report looks at the strategic opportunities over the coming two decades for the health of the nation more broadly.

I believe we need to reposition health as one of the primary assets of our nation, contributing to both the economy and happiness. We also must measure and track progress in our development of health as a nation and our fairness as a society in delivering improving health outcomes. We need a composite Health Index developed that recognises this and is tracked alongside our nation’s GDP.

We need to track progress in improving health and health outcomes, to and beyond 2040 with a new composite Health Index that reflects the multi-faceted determinants of the population’s health and equity in support of ensuring health is recognised and treated as one of our nation’s primary assets. This index should be considered by Government alongside GDP and the Measuring National Well-being programme.* We regularly collect most of the datasets that have the individual measures that could be combined.