The new Office for Health Promotion is a dream come true to many of us in the industry. Helping drive people to improve their diet, reduce their alcohol intake and take more physical activity is the bedrock for many of the services our customers run.
The Office will recruit an expert lead, who will report jointly into the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty. Its remit will be to systematically tackle the top preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in the UK. And with the cost of ill health in working age adults estimated at £100 billion per year*, creating a huge knock-on effect to the economy, it’s without doubt time to focus more on prevention than cure?
There is a plethora of great work, joined-up thinking and large datasets which help to demonstrate that, in existing programmes, things are moving in the right direction. My concern is that these programmes are not seen or stay hidden behind the doors of the leisure industry.
It’s time to stand proud, to shout loud and share the good news that our industry has to offer. With support from ukactive and CIMPSA, these news items could really chime with the new office.
But for many organisations, emerging from long periods of lockdown and non-trading, I worry that the enthusiasm of the new Office will come at a time where many providers are still recovering from the cost of the pandemic.
Maybe there is an opportunity to turn a portion of the £100 billion cost to an offset funding programme that is based on good evidence and can therefore clearly demonstrate the value in funding such programmes? Whilst initially this may show a rise in overall costs, the dividend it should pay back will help to offset those cost. From there, a targeted approach will keep providers motivated and driven to sharing success and outcomes.
We welcome the news and are at hand if there is opportunity to shine the light on some of the great work our customers are delivering.
Please feel free to reach out to me or via our usual social channels - I'd love to hear your views.