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Jennie Price: Sector needs to present short-term health benefits of physical activity more clearly

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Organisations and local authorities looking for funding for physical activity provisions from the health sector will have to demonstrate the short-term benefits more clearly, according to Sport England chief executive Jennie Price.

Talking at today’s (25 February) Local Government Authority (LGA) Annual Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference 2016, Price said bodies such as the Department of Health (DoH) and Public Health England (PHE) wanted to engage with physical activity schemes that achieve almost immediate results as well as long-term gains.

“The thing we have to get better at is demonstrating short-term as well as long-term impact, because budgets are so tight that if you promise prevention in 20 years time it’s tempting, but not tempting enough,” she said. “Whereas if you promise cost savings in blood pressure medication, statins, and residential care for people suffering dementia, I think that short-term impact is probably the best way of wanting to engage with the health sector.”

Price added that the cross-departmental nature of the government’s Sporting Future strategy would help with that engagement. One of the document’s key targets is the improvement of physical and mental wellbeing, while the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will work with the DoH and the NHS to promote sport and physical activity into care pathways.

“We will find it easier to get around a table now with the DoH and PHE,” Price said. “I have a meeting with a director-level individual in the DoH next week for the first time in about five years and that’s because of this new strategy.”

Price also told delegates – the majority of whom were representatives from local councils – that Sport England’s increased remit to cover physical activity as well as sport represented greater scope for partnership, particularly councils covering large rural areas.

She said: “For those of you who have big outdoor opportunities I would really encourage you to think about working with us. We have a whole new set of partnerships now with the National Trust and the Forestry Commission to encourage families in particular to go outdoors together."

The quango recently teamed up with the former to build 10 new cycle trails in its parks. Sport England is putting £2m (US$2.8m, €2.5m) towards the project.

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Organisations and local authorities looking for funding for physical activity provisions from the health sector will have to demonstrate the short-term benefits more clearly, according to Sport England chief executive Jennie Price.
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Price said the cross-departmental <i>Sporting Future</i> would help with engagement from the health sector
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