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Laziness costs the NHS £34m each year

PUBLISHED: 13:26 14 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:29 05 July 2010

OUR failure to be active is costing East Anglia's health service £34m a year, health bosses claim.

The Department of Health says that NHS Norfolk alone has an annual bill of £13.

OUR failure to be active is costing East Anglia's health service £34m a year, health bosses claim.

The Department of Health says that NHS Norfolk alone has an annual bill of £13.3m for conditions caused by physical inactivity. In Yarmouth and Waveney the bill is £3.7m, in the rest of Suffolk it is £10.2m and in Cambridgeshire £7m. Norfolk has the highest cost per person - £1.86 for every man, woman and child in the county, even those who are not unfit.

The NHS Norfolk bill alone would pay for 2,500 hip replacements or 425,000 practice nurse consultations. The figures have been published for the first time in 'Be Active, Be Healthy', a Government plan to get more people moving. Now more money is being spent in Norfolk to get people moving.

NHS Norfolk has joined up with Active Norfolk, the county's sports partnership, and provided match-funding of around £90,000 up to March 2010 to support the Be Active, Be healthy strategy. The funding will pay for a physical activity co-ordinator to develop and deliver a joint Active Norfolk/NHS Norfolk physical activity programme. This will include GP exercise referral and recommendation programmes, walking for health, and fitness programmes including workplace exercise and schemes for people to get back into exercise.

John Battersby, director of public health for NHS Norfolk, said: “NHS Norfolk hopes that this strategy will enable people to positively change their lifestyles, so they can become more active and healthier. It should reduce the number of patients with conditions caused by inactivity, which will mean that some of the money which has so far been spent on these conditions can be used in other areas of healthcare to benefit patients.”

Laurie Hull, director of Active Norfolk, said: “This is a great step in the right direction.”

More than 27 million adults in England are not getting enough exercise to benefit their health and to help prevent chronic disease. Obesity is responsible for 9,000 premature deaths each year in England.

The chief medical officer recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week for adults. Physical inactivity costs the NHS £1.8 billion a year and the wider economic costs of sickness and early death may be as high as £8.3bn.

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