The NHS will encourage companies to reward their staff for losing weight, as part of a major report billed as a blueprint for the future of the health service in England. NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said within the next 5 years that the health service would have to break out of its “narrow confines” and promote healthy lifestyles.
Entirely new models of care, which could include GP surgeries clubbing together into federations to replace many services currently carried out in hospitals, will be set up across the country The report also says the NHS can eradicate most of its projected £30bn deficit by 2020, but will need the Government to increase spending on the health service by at least £1.5bn per year above inflation to avoid going into the red.
Cutting rates of obesity, smoking and drinking will be critical to saving the NHS from the costs of treating millions of patients with preventable conditions including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, NHS leaders said. Employers are viewed as key to promoting better health in the population and Mr Stevens said that he wanted to see measures to encourage participation in Weight Watchers-type schemes.
Incentives could be in the form of shopping vouchers, cash or prizes. The scheme would have NHS backing but the vouchers would be issued by employers to staff who commit to losing weight. Ordinary people should be incentivised to volunteer to care for elderly members of their community through £200-a-year council tax rebates, the report adds.
The report, Five Year Forward View, which has been produced by NHS England along with other national NHS bodies including Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission, throws down the gauntlet to the next government on the long-term future and funding of the NHS in England.