Matthew Custance, KPMG partner for healthcare, says: “In 2012, the UK was the third least physically active nation in Europe, while Greece and the Netherlands were among the most active. One of the key differentiators is the incentive to use walking or cycling as a means of transport. In existing UK towns, there is often insufficient road space to create really safe cycle and walk ways. The development of new towns does offer that advantage.
“Today’s announcement by Simon Stevens refers to ‘technology enablement’ and there’s no doubt that services can be delivered more cheaply and efficiently through the use of technology. The development of a new town offers the opportunity to build that capability into every home. In reality the cost of this is relatively low, with the option to install a smart box in a home for around £200.
“The bigger challenge will be adapting the NHS around this technology. Many GPs do not able to offer videoconference appointments, and most of the NHS cannot yet be meaningfully accessed online. Community health is largely a visiting service despite the technology being available for remote monitoring. Of course, there is something ironic in encouraging more physical activity while simultaneously enabling people to access GPs from their sofas.
“Aside from the health aspect, the announcement that 76,000 new homes will be built as part of this initiative is a welcome one. Currently, the UK needs to build 250,000 homes a year to meet need.”
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