Ministers should take action to make tackling loneliness a top priority across all departments, according to the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission.
Loneliness is now a ‘social epidemic’. NHS England has found it can increase the risk of premature death by a third.
The Commission report published today find that ‘There is currently a gap in national leadership on loneliness. While central Government cannot solve loneliness alone, it can play a role in galvanising the key players, catalysing action, assessing and comparing progress, and holding those who need to act accountable.’
Among their findings, are the fact that over 9 million adults are often or always lonely and that Loneliness is as harmful to health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Three-quarters of GPs say they see up to five patients every day who are lonely while Loneliness is estimated to cost employers £2.5 billion every year.
The Commission was established by the MP Jo Cox before her murder in June 2016 and has been continued to carry forward her determination to turbo-charge the national response.
The report calls for a UK wide strategy for loneliness across all ages, led by Government, but built on the insight, expertise and capacity of many others including the NHS, voluntary and community sector and business.
The national strategy should be underpinned by equivalent strategies at the local level (on the model of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy), with central Government reporting annually to Parliament on progress in reducing loneliness.
“While government action is essential, the report makes clear that we must all play our part.” say the authors adding:
‘Tackling loneliness is a generational challenge that can only be met by concerted action by everyone – governments, employers, businesses, civil society organisations, families, communities and individuals all have a role to play. Working together we can make a difference.’
In a statement this week, Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said:
“I welcome the Jo Cox Commission’s work to raise awareness of and take action to alleviate
loneliness. Social isolation can have a devastating impact not only on people’s mental well-
being, but evidence shows that it can also increase the risk of premature death by around a
“NHS staff see first-hand the acute consequences of loneliness, which can affect so many
people of all ages.
“This has profound implications for the NHS, especially over winter when our hospitals,
community services and GPs are already over-stretched. Our advice is for people to keep a friendly eye on relatives, friends