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28 Nov 2019

Ukactive's Jack Shakespeare: political parties 'off the mark' in their approach to help NHS
BY Tom Walker

ukactive has been campaigning for schools to opening their doors for physical activities over the summer holidays

ukactive has been campaigning for schools to opening their doors for physical activities over the summer holidays
photo: Shutterstock

The main political parties need to "discuss prevention in the same breath as they discuss funding the NHS", according to Jack Shakespeare, director of children, young people, families and research at ukactive.

Responding to the major political parties publishing their manifestos over the past week – ahead of the December general election – Shakespeare said the parties have failed to acknowledge some of the obvious solutions for easing the pressure on the health service.

"All the main political parties have published their manifestos for the election, and yet we are left wondering about how important prevention and early intervention will be to the next government," Shakespeare said.

"Central to the election campaign has understandably been our National Health Service, but the debate from politicians and commentators has so far focused heavily on front line investment, with limited discussion on how to reduce people using the NHS at such a scale.

"The major parties need to discuss prevention in the same breath as they discuss funding the NHS, and there is no better place to start than focussing on the youngest in our society and their families."

Shakespeare did welcome, however, the manifesto pledge made by the Conservative Party to invest £1bn over three years to create 250,000 extra childcare places – through schools – during the holidays for primary school-age children.

"Why is this so important? Because opening schools during holiday times provides an opportunity to unlock activity for the children that need it most, create positive and safe environments for young people, and provide support for those families that fear the cost and worry of the summer holidays for their children," Shakespeare said.

"Our research shows that during the summer holidays children’s fitness falls by around 74 per cent, and by even more in areas of high deprivation. However, 39 per cent of community sports facilities remain locked behind school gates.

"Our Schools as Community Hubs initiative has been backed by 85 per cent of adults polled in a ComRes survey – so there is overwhelming support to open school facilities during school holidays."



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