London 2012: NHS to launch health drive in capital


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The Independent Online

As part of the "Games effect" the NHS is launching a health drive to improve the fitness of Londoners.

The report, called Go London, is aimed at cutting obesity and heart disease and ensuring Londoners live healthier lives as part of the London 2012 legacy.

It follows a pledge issued three years ago by London’s strategic health authority.

The huge success of the Games has sparked massive interest in sport and fitness, and health chiefs want to capitalise on this enthusiasm with the help of medics.

It is being backed by, among others, chef Jamie Oliver and Arlene Phillips and Len Goodman from Strictly Come Dancing.

It comes as evidence shows Londoners face vastly different outcomes over life expectancy and health. Men living near the Olympic stadium in Canning Town live on average 73.6 years compared with 78.5 in Westminster.

Dr Simon Tanner, director of public health, NHS London, said: “We want to use the 2012 Games magic to improve the health of Londoners.

There are still health inequalities in various forms all over London but the Olympics and Paralympics provide us with a unique opportunity to help address these.

By training GPs and other healthcare professionals to incorporate physical activity in their prescriptions for longer term conditions we will be encouraging a more universally active London.”

Dr Noel Baxter, a GP in Southwark, said the training helped him discover why some of his patients did not exercise, such as a fear of sweating.

He said: “I hadn’t really explored this as a blocker before so that was a really important learning point.”

Trainee doctors will also be encouraged to sign up to volunteer for projects such as getting more people onto their bikes. This scheme, called Team Up, is managed by the London Deanery, which trains the capital’s doctors and dentists.

Another initiative outlined in the report targets the over-55s with long-term conditions such as diabetes. Called My Best Move, it encourages GPs to prescribe physical activities as treatment such as dancing, walking and cycling.