Think-Tank Suggests Healthy Citizens Should Be Prioritised By NHS

Patients who can show they live healthy lifestyles by proving how much they exercise and what they buy in their weekly shop should be prioritised for non-emergency hospital appointments, a report recommended today.

Benefits claimants who regularly go to the gym should receive extra payments, think-tank Demos also recommended.

It wants the Government to reward patients who try to lower their own risk of requiring medical treatment by eating healthily and exercising.

The Control Shift report, drawn up in conjunction with insurance firm Zurich, called for ministers to work with supermarkets to give shoppers a "health tally" to encourage them to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and drink less alcohol.

It says adults should be nudged into making good decisions rather than penalised for living an unhealthy life.

Report author Max Wind-Cowie said: "These proposals are about more than just saving money. They are about helping people make informed decisions and take greater personal and collective responsibility - an attitude that has become even more salient now that there is less in the coffers.

"Government and the private sector should adopt an enabling and pro-active approach to supporting individuals, families and communities into doing the right thing and taking more responsibility - it is no longer enough to simply step back and assume people will fill the gap.

"Polling has consistently shown this view strikes a chord with the general public, and these nudge-plus proposals offer some practical idea of how we could see it in action."