Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Conservative health report - Motherhood and apple pie?

The Conservative Health Policy Working group has reported. I have scanned the report to the point where I nodded off about two-thirds of the way through. It is full of motherhood and apple pie with recommendations which wouldn't stand up to scrutiny as "SMART" targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Most of the proposals are anodyne to the extent that the government could easily say it is already achieving them.

Just before I nodded off, I came across one concrete suggestion: The NHS Health Miles Card:

We have considered ideas such as a ‘NHS Health Miles Card’ to promote the concept of wellbeing. Although much work would be required for development; we think that the creation of a small individual benefit scheme would change the language of health from illness to wellbeing. We are attracted by the idea of promoting health awareness through marketing tools.
Health miles could be given as ‘reward points’ for giving up smoking, losing weight, receiving immunisations or attending screening programmes. Such rewards could be redeemed against fresh vegetables, discounted gym membership, or priority within other public services. Clearly pilot studies, further evidence and investigation would be required to identify how local interplay and clinical discretion may be applied and even whether such a scheme should be designed to address the greatest health needs or social deprivation. There are many possibilities and co-operation across business could generate many wider benefits.

It's an interesting idea. I have long thought that there is mileage in somehow encouraging people to go to the gym more. This might actually do something in that direction.

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