• 16May

    Health Literacy – the agenda we cannot afford to ignore

    The Community Health and Learning Foundation (CHLF) has launched a new paper this week, Health Literacy – the agenda we cannot afford to ignore.

    The paper points out that:

    • 43 per cent of people aged 16 – 65 are unable to effectively understand and use health information, this rises to 61 per cent if maths is involved. This means that between 15 and 21 million people of working age population in the UK may not be able to access the information they need to become and stay healthy.
    • In England a saving from effective health literacy would be in the range of £2.87 billion to £4.78 billion

    With a foreword from the Co-Chairs of the UK Health Literacy Group, the report defines Health Literacy, explains the scale of the problem, the economic implications, and what needs to change. It highlights that “Health literacy is a pivotal feature in the complex links between health inequalities, income and skills and is critical to inclusive growth for local and national policy as the economy moves out of the recession”.

    The paper recommends:

    • a cross-government strategic approach to recognise the  economic and social impact of health literacy and its role in addressing health inequalities and wellbeing;
    • the integration of health literacy into social inclusion funding strategies;
    • a government review of how preventative actions for health literacy can be funded from future long-term savings, particularly those realised through improved patient understanding and self-management of long-term health conditions;
    • a review of how savings from improved health literacy can flow back into the local areas;
    • the integration and adoption of health literacy as a core literacy within education and skills policies alongside digital, numeracy and literacy , with joint funding between DH, DfE and BIS;
    • the development of a health literate system with clinical commissioning groups prioritising practitioner awareness.

    The paper can be read here