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NHS England to stop selling sugary drinks on NHS sites


9 November 2016

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NHS England’s chief executive has today announced details of proposed new action to cut obesity and reduce the sales and consumption of sugary drinks sold on NHS premises.

A formal consultation launched today gives details of a proposed new fee to be paid by vendors, or alternatively seeks views on an outright ban.

The consultation proposes levying a fee for any vendor that sells sweetened drinks, including fruit juices, sweetened milk-based drinks and sweetened coffees

NHS England’s chief executive has today announced details of proposed new action to cut obesity and reduce the sales and consumption of sugary drinks sold on NHS premises.

A formal consultation launched today gives details of a proposed new fee to be paid by vendors, or alternatively seeks views on an outright ban.

The consultation proposes levying a fee for any vendor that sells sweetened drinks, including fruit juices, sweetened milk-based drinks and sweetened coffees

It is in alignment with the Government's proposed sugar tax, but would begin sooner, in 2017, and based on best evidence would cover the full range of sugar sweetened drinks.

England would become the first country in the world to take action across its health service in this way.

In a statement NHS England said: “Rising rates of obesity amongst NHS staff are not only bad for their personal health, but also affect sickness absence and the NHS’s ability to give patients credible and effective advice about their health.”

A recent survey found obesity to be the most significant self-reported health problem amongst NHS staff, with nearly 700,000 NHS staff estimated to be overweight or obese.

NHS premises also receive heavy footfall from the communities of which they are a part, with over 1 million patients every 24 hours, 22 million A&E attendances and 85 million outpatient appointments each year.

The statement added: “The food sold in these locations can send a powerful message to the public about healthy food and drink consumption.”

Addressing the ukactive National Summit, Simon Stevens said: "Confronted by rising obesity, type 2 diabetes and child dental decay, it's time for the NHS to practice what we preach. Nurses, visitors and patients all tell us they increasingly want healthy, tasty and affordable food and drink options.

“So like a number of other countries we're now calling time on hospitals as marketing outlets for junk food and fizzy drinks.

“By ploughing the proceeds of any vendor fees back into staff health and patient charities these proposals are a genuine win/win opportunity to both improve health and cut future illness cost burdens for the NHS."

Proceeds from the levy would be used directly to fund expanded local staff health and wellbeing programmes and the trust's patient charities.

A recent two month NHS pilot of different types of sugar policies at four hospitals has already taken place and showed positive results. For example, one site reported that although no sugary drinks were sold during the trial, the overall total number of drinks sold did not decrease and they were financially unaffected.

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