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Grand designs

A new NHS scheme is aiming to promote healthy living through the creation of 10 ‘healthy new towns’ across the country. Charlotte Rixon reports

NHS England has plans to design 10 ‘healthy new towns’ that will shape the health of communities by rethinking the way people live and access health and social care services. Under the scheme, new neighbourhoods will offer approximately 170,000 residents the chance to live in an area that promotes healthy and independent living.

Modern health challenges

The new developments will test solutions to health challenges, such as dementia, obesity, physical inactivity and mental health issues, at the same time as addressing the shortage of affordable housing. Options to be trialled include fast foodfree zones near schools, safe and appealing green spaces, dementia-friendly streets and integrated health and social care services that use digital technology.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “We want children to have places where they want to play with friends and can safely walk or cycle to school. We want to see neighbourhoods and adaptable home designs that make it easier for older people to continue to live independently whenever possible and we want new ways of providing new types of digitally-enabled local health services.”

Delivering commitments

The sites for the 10 new towns were selected from 114 applications. Projects include 3,350 new homes on a ‘care campus’ at a former army barracks in Hampshire; three residential areas in Darlington linked by a ‘virtual care home’; and up to 15,000 new homes in the first garden city for 100 years at Ebbsfleet in Kent. If successful, the initiative could help the NHS to deliver some of the commitments to improve population health and integrate health and care services outlined in its ‘Five Year Forward View’.

Central element

Responding to the news, Rob Darracott, Pharmacy Voice chief executive, said that community pharmacies, as “dispensers of health” and “the most accessible healthcare locations in the country”, should be “a central element to the healthy new towns”. He highlighted healthy living pharmacies as an example of integrated care.

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