Landmark new law could save Welsh NHS half a billion

Published on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:33
Posted by Scott Buckler

Half a billion pounds could be slashed from NHS budgets if the Welsh Government's proposed Active Travel Bill is properly implemented, according to a new report released today by charity Sustrans Cymru

As the consultation closes on the White Paper setting out the Welsh Government's plans, Sustrans is publishing new research modelled by health experts which shows that helping more people to get active would improve lives and save the cash-strapped health service £517 million over 20 years. The new figure is based on a research model first published in The Lancet in July.

"If more people were able to walk and cycle to work, school and the shops we'd be a happier and healthier nation" Lee Waters, Director of Sustrans Cymru said. "But this won't happen by itself – we need safer options for people to get around on foot and by bike" he added.

The new Active Travel Bill will require local authorities to develop and maintain an integrated network of routes for walking and cycling. In its submission to the consultation Sustrans have called for the Bill to have clear targets to increase levels of physically active travel.

Increasingly inactive lifestyles have caused a dramatic increase in diseases like diabetes in Wales. The latest statistics show that 1in 5 Welsh adults are classed as clinically obese, over half are overweight, and more than 70% fail to reach the recommended levels of moderate physical activity.

"Our politicians must recognise the massive health and economic benefits this Bill offers and support the new law as it passes through the Assembly."

Health expert, James Jarrett, who wrote the report said:

"Prevention really is better than cure when it comes to getting around actively.

"More and more health experts are prescribing walking and cycling to help lessen the massive health and financial burden of diseases like type two diabetes and heart disease."

"Wales has some of the highest childhood obesity in the world. The Active Travel Bill is a practical response to this growing epidemic and has the potential to be one of the most effective public health interventions since the creation of the National Assembly".

Source: ©Sustrans

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