Government partnership working to improve the nation’s health
1 July 2011
Representatives of swimming addressed a recent meeting in the House of Commons of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sport, set up to consider the importance of sport for maintaining and improving the nation’s health.
Anne Adams-King, ASA Director of English Programmes, told MPs and Peers about the ASA’s work to establish a clear route for patients from the GP’s surgery to the swimming pool. ‘Swim4Life’ establishes working relationships between ASA regional teams, pool operators and GP Practices and actively seeks to build a stronger relationship with the medical profession to encourage doctors to recommend swimming.
The programme ensures that GP Practices receive locally relevant information and helpful literature as well as template correspondence, enabling GPs to easily send a personalised letter to patients recommending a visit to their local pool. Leaflets are also provided for display in GP surgeries to highlight the benefits of swimming.
...by working together with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sport we can inspire more people to go swimming more often and make significant inroads into boosting levels of physical activity, ultimately improving the health of the nation
Olympic Gold Medallist Duncan Goodhew also spoke to members about the importance of encouraging people to take to the water. “Swimming already plays a huge role in the sporting activity of the nation,” he told members. “It’s very popular with all ages, it’s fun and easily accessible. Most importantly, it can provide significant health and fitness benefits in just half an hour a week.”
The champion swimmer also reminded Parliamentarians of their role in promoting positive initiatives designed to improve public health, saying that he hoped that "...by working together with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sport we can inspire more people to go swimming more often and make significant inroads into boosting levels of physical activity, ultimately improving the health of the nation.”
The ASA is now looking to form partnerships with GP consortia to ensure that swimming is specifically recommended to patients as an effective way to improve physical and mental wellbeing. However, in the context of local authority cutbacks, it is clear that boosting physical activity is dependent on a long-term commitment to retaining provision of sport and recreation opportunities; patients need access to facilities if they are to act on the recommendations of their GP.