By XAN VARMUZA, Founder Sportside
There’s no doubt our cherished NHS is creaking at the seams as demand outweighs supply. While it is vital we support front-line services such as A&E, there are calls this week for a £500million investment in prevention – and the magic pill of exercise and fitness.
At the heart of community fitness are local sports halls and swimming pools, but two thirds in England and Wales are more than 10 years old and one in four has not been refurbished this century, according to Sports England.
Local councils are calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce a £500 million funding pot to upgrade facilities to support healthy, active communities and transform the nation’s health.
Local Government Association research shows the investment pays for itself – up to £500,000 for each revamp – by improving health, reducing anti-social behaviour and combating social isolation.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Local leisure facilities play a vital role in ensuring our communities remain healthy but too many are now in desperate need of being updated and refurbished.”
The NHS spends hundreds of millions a year treating diseases such as diabetes which could have been avoided by easier access to exercise. A third of men and half of women do not do enough physical activity, and two-thirds of adults are overweight.
At Sportside we share the LGA’s belief that prevention is better than cure. We can only encourage more people to participate in sport if our sports halls, grounds and swimming pools are up to scratch and fit for purpose.
Against the £10billion a year the NHS spends on obesity-related illnesses, a £500million investment in our communities seems brilliant value.
The council sports centre kitty will improve health, save money and reduce pressure on the NHS. It’s a win, win, win, Mr Johnson.