ukactive CEO Steven Ward said: “We welcome the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s continued commitment to put the preventative agenda at the heart of the Government’s health policy.
“In setting out his vision today, Matt Hancock has reiterated the Government’s intention to transform public health and these targets rightly focus on ‘health creation’ through exercise and nutrition, rather than a negative and hopeless focus on condition management.
“But while personal responsibility for our health and wellbeing is important, so too is the need for Government to introduce smarter regulation and investment in order to address the environmental challenges which contribute to ill health and disease.
“The reality is that the UK is emerging from a decade of austerity and now faces a £1bn cut in the public health budget for 2019/20 according to the Health Foundation’s analysis of last week’s Budget.
“The Secretary of State and his Cabinet colleagues are already in possession of three significant proposals from ukactive which would have a transformative impact on the health of the nation and do not depend exclusively on public finance.
“While the vision and 10-year plan for the NHS are crucial, action can be delayed no longer so we urge the Secretary of State to push through the following proposals as a matter of urgency or risk putting more lives at risk:
- Wellness Hubs – a capital investment of £1bn, using private finance to transform the UK’s ageing leisure centres into modern Wellness Hubs which bring leisure, health and community services under one roof. Sport England’s funding model shows Wellness Hubs can achieve a 30% reduction in capital build cost and 40% improvement in efficiency.
- Workout from Work scheme – extend the Cycle to Work scheme to include other fitness equipment and gym memberships which would see 209,000 inactive Britons take up physical activity. Independent analysis shows a cost-to-benefit ratio of 2.6 to 1, bringing significant cost savings to the NHS, improved workplace productivity and reduced premature mortality.
- Reimagine schools as community hubs – 40% of community sports facilities are locked behind school gates. ukactive’s Generation Inactive 2 report recommends that Government develops outward-facing and sustainable schools-as-community hub models with integrated health, education and social care provision for children and family engagement.
“We look forward to working with Government to progress these proposals and empower the physical activity sector to fulfil its true potential in the preventative agenda and reducing the burden on our NHS.”