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Benefits 'should be docked for non-adherence to GP exercise prescriptions'

Patients given exercise prescriptions by GPs could have their benefits cut if they fail to use the opportunity to lose weight and get healthy, a local council has proposed.

The report by the City of Westminster borough council and the Local Government Information Unit says that local authorities should use council tax and housing benefit to incentivise ‘behaviours that promote public health’.

It suggests that adherence to exercise prescriptions should be monitored using ‘smart cards’ that check if a patient has accessed local leisure facilities.

The A Dose of Localism: The Role of Councils in Public Health report suggests initiatives for local government to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and local CCGs to support healthier lifestyles.

The report says: ‘Relocalisation of council tax benefit and housing benefit combined with new technologies provide an opportunity for councils to
embed financial incentives for behaviours that promote public health.

‘The increasing use of smart cards for access to leisure facilities, for instance, provides councils with a significant amount of data on usage patterns. Where an exercise package is prescribed to a resident, housing and council tax benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise residents.’

Dr Anouska Hari, vice-chair of Westminster LMC, said she was dubious about the scheme.

She said: ‘I don’t know enough about the scheme to say whether I support it or not, but I believe it would be difficult to implement  any initiative that requires additional manpower in the current climate.’



Readers' comments (8)

  • Perhaps to set an example over weight MP's should be banned from claiming expenses until they have reached a target weight

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  • And if we conclude that moderate obesity is associated with reduced mortality, will we turn it round and fine the skinnies?

    This is patent nonsense and it crosses the line between a stalinistic regime and a democracy. Idiotic and unenforceable.

    Will we go on to fine everyone with the flu who didn't have a jab, everyone with norovirus for not washing their hands...

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  • I think it would be in the public interest to know the BMI of the councillors. And ensure their pay also depends on reducing weight and increasing exercise

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  • as it's likely these people are claiming benefits because they have an illness that prevents them earning a living this poses insurance problems for gyms. Not 'joined-up thinking' then.

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  • Vinci Ho

    'So why do I want to have an exercise prescription if there is a risk of losing benefits?'

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  • Eric Picles MP idea?

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  • Mark Struthers

    The evidence suggests that exercise is not actually a good tool for losing weight. Here, John Briffa provides food for thought on the poor effect of exercise on weight loss in the overweight.

    He finishes his piece by saying,

    "None of this should put you off taking exercise if that’s what you like to do and are physically able. However, these observations may go some way to explain why all the effort you may be putting in pounding the streets or exercising on a treadmill or cross-trainer are not causing the pounds to melt away. My experience tells me that most bang for the buck for weight loss is had by getting the diet right. For me, that means a diet based on real food that is generally higher in fat and lower in carbohydrate than the diet we are traditionally advised to eat."

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  • what arrogant nonsense = people on benefits- being targeted yet again.have they agreed to their data being shared by the way? shall we start with the behaviour of Westminster councillors.or are they all perfect speciments of humanity (ditto health workers who collude in the suggestion MUST be monitored and 'encouraged' to become role models ).

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