In a radical move, Westminster Council are proposing to save money on their NHS budget by telling obese people that they will have their benefits cut if they don't attend fitness classes.
The move would give GPs the power to prescribe leisure activities to help overweight people improve their health and lose weight.
The Tory-controlled council explained that the aim of the plan would be to save £5bn from the NHS budget when local authorities take charge of public health provisions in April 2013.
The idea was put forward in a report, A Dose of Localism: The Role of Council in Public Health and suggests linking people's welfare payments to healthy lifestyles and rewarding those who take charge of their weight.
The suggestion is understandably controversial, dividing opinion between being seen as a sensible 'win-win' solution or as British Medical Association GP committee chairman Dr Buckman explained, '[one] of the silliest things I've heard in a long time.'
Jonathan Carr-West, acting chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit explained such proposals were about, 'finding innovative ways to both improve people's lives so they don't suffer from these conditions, while also saving money for the public purse.
We have to look at ways of managing demand, of helping people not to need such expensive health interventions,' he added.
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