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The Sugar Crisis: A Sweet End for the NHS?

Friday 4 March 2016

Is there a link between the sugar crisis and the current state of the NHS?

It would definitely seem that way. According to the BBC, ‘nearly every hospital in England is now in deficit’. The national deficit is set to reach up to £2.8bn and the strain on the NHS can no longer be ignored.

Reasons for the deficit vary and include the use of agency doctors and nurses, with temporary staff costing a lot more than regular workers. Fears are now rising that hospitals will be unable to afford efficient and safe care for patients, and the King’s Fund found that, of 83 NHS trust directors, over half thought that ‘the quality of patient care in their area has deteriorated in the past year.’

As patients, there seems to be little we can do about the employment of agency staff within hospitals, but there is a way that we can help reduce the pressure on the NHS. The solution is as simple as our diet.

Is the sugar crisis a real thing?

Unfortunately, yes. A recent report has found that a 20% tax on sugary drinks in the UK would prevent 3.7 million people from becoming obese over the next decade.

Bad diets have recently overtaken smoking as the biggest single cause of lifestyle-linked avoidable illness the NHS treats, and it’s not difficult to see why – a single can of fizzy drink contains about nine teaspoons of sugar.

At the end of last year we looked in detail at the state of the NHS and how its patients could help support it. This now seems more important than ever, and the fuss being made about sugar across the nation seems to strengthen the argument that change needs to come from ourselves.

Just increasing awareness about the effects of sugar could reduce the levels of obesity and could save the NHS £10m a year by 2025.

Without bold measures such as a sugar tax, the obesity crisis and its dire effects – heart disease and type 2 diabetes to name just a couple – will ensure that the NHS’s head stays firmly under water.

Jane Landon, UK Health Forum’s deputy chief executive, has drawn upon countries such as Mexico to support an argument for a sugar tax: ‘Countries which have introduced a tax on sugary drinks have not only reduced consumption, they have raised much-needed revenues for public health measure.’

Better health and a financially stronger healthcare system? The benefits of introducing a sugar tax seem too sweet to ignore.

Diagnosing a solution

While making healthy lifestyle choices (aided by measures such as a sugar tax) is an obvious answer for relieving the NHS of some of its strain, the current state of the country’s healthcare system now requires a larger solution than a salad for lunch.

As developers of Business Intelligence software we are naturally inclined to look towards data as the hero of the day.

BI software such as Connexica’s CXAIR provides easy and immediate insight into data – patients can not only be diagnosed and treated more quickly, but possible illnesses and admissions to hospitals can be prevented by providing access to a patient’s history.

The equation seems pretty simple. Quicker and easier insight into patient data = a reduction in the number of patients admitted to hospital = a reduction in NHS spending = a smaller deficit and a healthier NHS.

We believe it really is that simple, and our commitment to the importance of data in this crisis is evidence through our signing of techUK’s Interoperability Charter to ensure the security of sensitive data.

Access to information can save not only our lives but also the healthcare system that they depend upon.

For more information about how Connexica or CXAIR can help your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at info@connexica.com

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