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Prescription of leisure activities at council facilities recommended in report

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A new report has recommended the prescription of leisure activities at council facilities become widespread, as local authorities prepare to take over public health responsibility from the NHS.

A Dose of Localism: The Role of Council in Public Health welcomes the transfer of responsibility, set to happen in April, stating local government services such as housing, planning, licensing, welfare and leisure play a role in preventative public health measures.

The report, produced by think tank Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) and London's Westminster City Council, states several local authorities already allow GPs to prescribe physical activities at council swimming pools, gyms, yoga and walking clubs.

It proposes beneficiaries be targeted with financial incentives to use leisure centres, with smart cards being a possible technology to track people's usage of facilities.

But UK Active chief executive David Stalker did not agree beneficiaries should be penalised for not adhering to a prescribed regime and said there were many ways to remain active besides using the pool or gym.

Westminster City Council said obesity alone costs the NHS £5.1bn and incorporating preventative health measures into council policy would save lives and money.

Council leader Philippa Roe said the government now needed to provide certainty around funding and confirm its formula for allocating money to local authorities.

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A new report has recommended the prescription of leisure activities at council facilities become widespread, as local authorities prepare to take over public health responsibility from the NHS.
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