Parkwood Leisure Backs £1bn Health Plan for Leisure Centres

New calls for a £1 billion investment programme to make leisure centres the preventative front line of the NHS are being backed by leading leisure operator, Parkwood Leisure.

Parkwood’s acting managing director, Giles Rawlinson, urges the Government and key stakeholders to act on the recommendations published today (November 9th), by ukactive, the not-for-profit body dedicated to increasing physical activity levels.

ukactive’s proposals would see cross-sector funding used to transform tired leisure centres into community wellness hubs, combining state-of-the-art leisure facilities with GP drop-in centres, libraries and police services to create a one-stop-shop for public services.

Giles Rawlinson said: “Action has to be taken. Physical inactivity costs the NHS billions of pounds every year and this simply cannot be allowed to continue. 

“Leisure is a non-mandatory local authority service which is under threat in many areas because of budget cuts and local Government Austerity measures. Investment would revitalise a generation of leisure centres, assuring their future and providing a huge boost to their work to improve public health, resulting in significant long-term savings for the NHS and improved health outcomes for our communities. 

“Parkwood is already rising to this challenge and the leisure centres we operate have shown themselves to be highly effective in supporting GPs.”
Since its inception in Bexley, where more than 30 per cent of adults are classed as inactive, Parkwood’s Steps to Health exercise referral scheme has helped to improve the wellbeing of thousands of residents with medical conditions ranging from obesity and diabetes to dementia and depression. 

GPs and hospitals can refer any patients whom they feel would benefit from doing more exercise. Parkwood’s specialist team then guides them through group programmes specifically designed to support their condition and increase fitness and mobility.

Giles Rawlinson added: “Leisure centres certainly need to be at the heart of any future strategy. ukactive’s recommendations represent a golden opportunity for public health and we’ll certainly be doing all we can to support them.”

The recommendations form part of ukactive’s Blueprint for an Active Britain: Milestone Review, published on November 9. The report was produced in collaboration with expert stakeholders from across the physical activity sector.

To find out more about our Steps to Health programme, view the video below: