DCN report recommends integrating council-run leisure and wellbeing services into health systems

In a new report, the District Councils Network is recommending the full integration of council leisure and wellbeing services into health systems. 

Fit for the Future - the District Role in Health Wellbeing shows that engagement of just over 1 million of the inactive population of England in a prescribed leisure services programme could, over a ten year period, provide a direct saving to the NHS of £314 million for the cost of treatment.

Other conclusions from the research find that almost 45,000 diseases could be avoided; 70,000 Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY) could be gained (a year of life in perfect health is equal to one QALY) which has an estimated health value of £1 billion and economic value of £4.2 billion.

The life expectancy gap could also be reduced by 3.7 years, according to the report.

The report states: "In recent policy proposals, the Government has recognised the need for a wider definition of health and an emphasis on early intervention. The DCN welcomes this.

"But this approach needs to fully embrace the important role that local government should play. We’re now calling for the services our members provide to be truly integrated into the health system, in line with the Government’s recent Integration White Paper. 

"Much more needs to be done to ensure that the contribution DCN councils make in our places is acknowledged by health bodies and Integrated Care Systems. Our leisure and wellbeing services in particular can form the backbone of a comprehensive and effective social prescription programme. 

"The research report which we are publishing alongside this paper - The Health Value of Wellbeing and Leisure Services - lays out the evidence for the benefits this approach could have. 

"These benefits encompass significant improvements to quality of life and many instances of disease avoided, as well as the associated savings to the NHS and the country. "

The reports were produced by Health Economics Consulting, a not-for-profit consultancy fully owned by the University of East Anglia on behalf of the DCN.

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