Health and Exercise – what the new Government White Paper means for the industry….

With the release of the long awaited Government white paper and the recent announcement of a radical new approach including the formation of a new integrated Public Health service we ask Georgina Jupp, Managing Director of CK Academy to take a look at some of the detail and consider its implications on our sector.

A full overview of the white paper and its ramifications will appear in the March issue of the Journal – why not let us know what you think of it too by either posting here or email

So often it’s a bit like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack as we attempt to stamp our mark and role in any kind of structured sense. Yet again we find ourselves attempting to remonstrate and cajole key decision makers…or is that just my viewpoint? So let’s have an overview of the thrust of the paper as it directly relates to us.

Some stark facts around what our bad habits cost the NHS as if we needed convincing!

  • 1 in 5 adults smoke – with 80,000 people killed every year by smoking and a colossal £2.7bn cost to the NHS in England – YET only £150m spent on smoking cessation.
  • 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese with 30,000 people a year killed by obesity and an annual cost to the NHS of £4.2bn (trebling in the last 20 years)
  • 1 in 3 adults drink over the maximum daily amount with 26,000 deaths a year caused by alcohol related conditions and a cost of £3 bn for illness and injury
  • Musculoskeletal conditions, circulatory disease and mental health disorders account for over 70% of the burden of long stay ill health; many are directly related to lifestyle choices.
  • Dementia is expected to double by 2030 – lifestyle and diet have huge implications here and a cost to the NHS of £17b per year

The new Public Health Service will be THE principle advisory service on all health matters, with a dedicated responsibility to improve everyone’s health and well-being.

It will look to positively promote health behaviours and lifestyle adapting environments to make this easier and to encourage wide spread responsibility.

With development and implementation in its remit, it will work to involve local government, communities and GP consortia as they in turn become an integral part of local strategies over the next couple of years.

It will carry a strong message focusing on prevention rather than better treatment and declaring itself as a ‘public health service’ and NOT a national sickness service.

The White Paper focuses on a wealth of priorities; for the sake of this article I have included those that would appear to have the strongest links to our sector, namely:

  • Helping people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives, particularly improving the health of the poorest fastest,  (those living in the poorest areas will on average die 7 years earlier than those in richer areas and spend up to 17years more living with poor health).
  • ‘Unleashing innovative and liberating professional leadership’
  • Local government and communities will be central to improving health
  • In 2011 the DoH will publish a number of documents outlining the priorities; these include obesity, mental health and other ‘wider determinants of health’.
  • Taking better care of children and its impact on unhealthy lifestyles.
  • Being in work leads to better physical and mental health, saving the UK up to £100 billion per year by decreasing working-age ill health.
  • Changing behaviours to decrease premature death, illness including cancers, vascular dementias and over 30% of circulatory diseases.

‘At a glance’ connections for our sector include the introduction of:

  • The launch of physical activity initiatives for active ageing
  • Olympic and Paralympics style sports competitions offered to all schools from 2012.
  • The development of the ‘Change4Life’ campaign, (although this has been cut, so will be interesting to see what happens here).
  • Stronger incentives for GPs so that they play an active role in public health.

However, areas of concern include the ‘apparent’ lack of direct involvement of our sector so it remains to be seen how much impact we are allowed to have.

We are in interesting times, I alternate between feeling real excitement that our time has come and maddening feelings of sheer and utter frustration!

What should be so much more straightforward and all embracing is still such a hard slog, yes things are changing, and it’s undoubtedly true we do have a voice albeit not a very loud one!

BUT after so much effort, willingness and innovation why do I still feel like the poor relation? I want to see a real shift to prevention, efficacy and a sector focus on behaviour change, I know we CAN do it, working in collaboration with health, however we also need to look to ourselves and step up to the plate collectively and quickly.

We must address the issue of the right type of training and appropriate development of our staff; this is a whole article on its own!

We must integrate into our communities – however, hard it is. We have to speak to healthcare in THEIR language, prove we are providers of choice, have consistency and clarity around expectations and measurement and demonstrate real and tangible health outcomes for patients – shout  ‘the exercise is medicine’ message.

We need to look at our facilities and really ask ourselves if they are fit for purpose for this new way of thinking.

We have never been more vital to the health of the nation – however, is the model designed to help those most in need?

We must be recognised for so much more than purely increasing physical activity, too often we are put into this box without acknowledging all the other benefits we offer.


8 responses to “Health and Exercise – what the new Government White Paper means for the industry….

  1. Hi.

    In order for the fitness industry to be seen as a credible force, genuinely adding value, with knowledge and expertise of a specialist nature, we need to move away from the (quite accurate) view that we are driven by fads and trends that have little to do with health, and more to do with appearance and fashion.

    Having completed the Cardiac Rehab Phase IV qualification with BACR, I have had a recognised, direct and meaningful impact on my local hospital, demonstrating a deep understanding of cardiac challenges, and also now being seen as a proven exercise expert.

    The industry needs to decide whether it is going to make a real difference by promoting and driving health related qualifications, which are obtained via association with the health industry, or whether we will continue being seen as paying lip service to the concept of real expertise (just listen to some of the dubious advice that is shovelled out in gyms, with almost no understanding of physiology, never mind related health matters).

    We can be a real force, but in my experience (and quite understandably) we have to establish that we are knowledgeable, credible, committed and educated at a level that is recognised by health professionals.

    • lou

      I totally agree with you…………..people need to believe in the support and help they can rely on…………..this can only happen however, if agencies work together to provide sustainable and targetted support to people to enable them to make healthy and mentally stimulating life choices! Good luck in the future with the work you obviously find interesting and stimulating : )

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  3. lou

    A lot of workers in public sector are being given training in behaviour change……..I think people are beginning to understand that we need sustained approaches to combat the huge impact that obesity, smoking and related behaviours are going to have on the nhs in the not so distant future! Shame the current coalition gov are making such sweeping cuts as this will take us back huge steps unless someone starts talking and consulting with front line workers who have the knowledge to help to build sustainable working practices across multi-agency teams countywide.

  4. victoria Green

    For me this involvement of reaching out to those who need a service of support and understanding without the big gym image,is something i have been delivering through my local council accessing gyms within our local secondary school.These are places that are part of the community,shared by all,and are affordable,local refferals can access them ,they can dress as they please,they may already have used the faciltiy(ie children/grandchildren already attend school there,or they may partake in other classes themselves for futher education),i think this makes use of facilities whilst they may lie idile,and its usually only a mile or two from home.
    So successful has this been(15 yrs in the running now) we have follow on classes (post gp refferals) that i have seen many clients make that life style change and are still attending after 5 yrs + as it becomes part of what they do and enjoy rather than having to.They also see me as a friend and on thier “level”,so its good for me too!!

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  6. Sarah

    Sadly the government seems to be stuck on the dark ages when it comes to nutrition and exercise advice. I wanted to cry with the make small swaps campaign. Great principle but encouraging people to drink diet sodas and low fat marg all packed with chemicals?? And the farce that is the traffic light system??

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