Fat parents must shape up or “face the music”, the chief executive of the NHS has declared. Urging the government to back plans designed to coerce people into healthier lifestyles, Simon Stevens also said that the NHS isn’t just a health service, it’s also a “social movement.”
Mr Steven’s remarks came during a Q&A session at a GPs surgery in Birmingham. He appeared alongside Prime Minister David Cameron who was announcing plans for a new seven day GP service. The NHS chief used his moment in the media spotlight to launch a full-throttled attack on overweight parents who lead a “couch potato” lifestyle and fail to spot obesity in their youngsters, the Telegraph has reported.
And he blamed the millions of people who continue to eat the wrong foods, smoke and drink, and don’t exercise for “normalising obesity”.
“Smoking still explains half the inequality in life expectancy between rich and poor – and two thirds of smokers get hooked as kids,” he said. “Binge drinking costs at least £5billion a year – in A&E admissions, road accidents, extra policing.
“Junk food, sugary fizzy drinks and couch potato lifestyles are normalising obesity – and as parents, a third of us can’t now spot when our own child is seriously overweight.
“So we’ve got a choice. Condemn our children to a rising tide of avoidable diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer? And burden taxpayers with an NHS bill far exceeding an extra £8 billion by 2020?
“Or take wide ranging action – as families, as the health service, as government, as industry; using the full range of tools at our disposal. It’s a no brainer – pull out all the stops on prevention, or face the music.”
Speaking alongside Mr Stevens, Mr Cameron described the hurt he felt thanks to Labour’s attacks during the general election in which they claimed he did not care about the NHS.
“You know the accusation that hurt me the most? It’s when people said the NHS wouldn’t be safe in our hands,” he said, adding that it had been the Coalition government who had “had to clear up the appalling mess at Mid-Staffordshire” and who gave “the whistle blowers the protection they needed to speak out.
“We’re the ones who have put quality, safety and compassion back at the heart of the NHS. My love of the NHS my respect for the NHS, my commitment to the NHS runs through every sinew of my body. The NHS is safe in my hands. And don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.”