Monday, 23 July 2018

Let's all try to be healthier next year

Let's all try to be healthier next year

Sir, — 2017 was a great year for Prince Harry. The Invictus Games that he supported in so many ways demonstrated what human beings can achieve, for example, Mark Ormrod gaining a silver in rowing despite having lost both legs and an arm.

The priority for most people, especially older ones, is their health and this week is when many reassess their personal objectives and some make new resolutions.

Can we all resolve to take more exercise and eat less and wisely? Being overweight is now the greatest threat to our own health and to our society.

Most people can avoid becoming overweight. They can also reverse being overweight if they really want to change. Most of us just need to exercise more and eat less.

We are fortunate to have an excellent National Health Service but first, each of us needs to take personal responsibility for our own health or the NHS will eventually fail.

Last year, the NHS cost the British taxpayer £140 billion or an average of about £2,000 each, although in Oxfordshire the costs per person were lower.

Costs for caring for people are increasingly being paid by local authorities from council tax. We must take responsibility for ourselves to help stop the costs rising.

Since last year the NHS contract has required each medical practice in England to create a patient participation group.

But these groups can only be really effective if patients in each practice lead a more healthy lifestyle. South-East Oxfordshire has excellent GPs and health centres and they have formed a committee to share best practice.

Sonning Common Health Centre led the way in 1996 by creating Health Walks and also the Green Gym, both of which have been adopted nationally.

Cycling for health has become popular and electric bikes now make it easier for older people to resume or even to start cycling for health if walking is too difficult. Young people also need to be motivated to look after their health through exercise and eating wisely and well.

Sonning Common also has Friends In Sickness and Health, a remarkably successful local logistics service where volunteers with cars take people to see their doctor or to attend hospital.

This wonderful service enables many people to live in their own home when they might otherwise need to be looked after in a care home. These health-giving and health-supporting activities need to be promoted more widely.

Please can your readers be invited to help themselves and also improve their own health by joining their local patient participation groups? If possible, they should also take part in some of the many health-promoting activities available.

As one grows older, good health is the most valuable asset one can have. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Woolsey

Chairman, Sonning Common Health Centre patient participation group

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