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GPs to hand out gym vouchers as Lansley unveils public health vision

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government is set to unveil plans for gym vouchers to be given away from GP surgeries when it launches its public health white paper later today.

The proposals form part of health secretary Andrew Lansley's plan to adopt a ‘less intrusive' approach to public health - encouraging people towards making informed decisions rather than restricting their lifestyle choices.

Former RCGP chair Professor Steve Field has been handed a key role in driving the changes, as the chair of a new Health Inclusion Board set up to examine the causes of deprivation and health inequalities.

The white paper is set to detail plans to change ‘social norms' around obesity, smoking, alcohol and exercise to make it easier for people to make healthier choices.

Vouchers will be available from GP surgeries, supermarkets and newspapers which the public can then exchange for free gym membership, swimming sessions and healthy food and drink, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The scheme, due to be launched in the New Year, is set to be funded by the private sector.

The white paper will flesh out the detail of plans to create a new public health service – with budgets ring-fenced, responsibility for public health transferred to local Government from NHS trusts, and a new public health premium introduced to reduce health inequalities. Public health directors will also be moved to local councils to work as ‘champions' of healthy living.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme this morning, Mr Lansley said: ‘We have got to arrive at a point where politicians stop just telling people how to be healthy but actually help them do it, which is about positive steps on supporting people on things like physical activity as well as necessary interventions.'

The health secretary will present the white paper to Parliament at 3.30pm this afternoon.

The white paper is set to detail plans to change 'social norms' around obesity, smoking, alcohol and exercise The white paper is set to detail plans to change 'social norms' around obesity, smoking, alcohol and exercise

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