Sir Muir Gray and SW AHSN to launch innovative new exercise and health initiatives in South West

Eminent NHS physician and policy advisor, Professor Sir Muir Gray, who helped develop Britain’s screening programmes and NHS Choices, has visited the South West to discuss the launch of innovative exercise and health initiatives.

Last year, Sir Muir Gray, launched the Active 10 app, encouraging everyone to do 10 minutes of brisk exercise a day (www.nhs.uk/oneyou). Muir joined the Exeter-based South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) to discuss how exercise can improve the physical and mental health of residents in the South West, particularly older people and people with one or more long term conditions – groups which overlap more with each decade.

Together they met with Directors of Public Health from across the South West to share their plans for a South West Activity Therapy Service, which include prescribing activity to anyone with a long-term condition, and investing in better value healthcare (see a short film at https://youtu.be/t3ED5h2pHHY).

Muir also spoke at the South West Clinical Senate annual conference, at the Mercure Exeter Rougemont Hotel on 22 March, about the important role of exercise in health and the future of healthcare. The Senate brings together a range of professionals to take an overview of health and healthcare for the local population and provides a source of strategic, independent advice and leadership on how services should be designed to provide the best overall care and outcomes for patients.

Chief Executive of the SW AHSN, Professor Jonathon Gray, says, “We were delighted to have Sir Muir meet with us to discuss how we can promote exercise as a healthcare intervention in the region. Most of us are only too aware of the pressures on our healthcare system, and by improving health and wellbeing through innovative means, we hope to reduce the impact on health and social care further down the line.

“Our focus is to involve the South West’s strong voluntary sector through social prescribing, providing patients with social, emotional or practical needs through local, non-clinical services such as volunteering, gardening, sports, arts activities, or cooking classes.”

Sir Muir Gray says, “I welcomed the opportunity to visit the South West to discuss new initiatives to improve health through exercise in the South West. No matter what age you are, it’s never too late to start regain strength, stamina, suppleness and the skill of co-ordination to reduce the risk of falls.

“There are three crucial elements that will increase your chances of having a relatively trouble-free and independent old age. You have to become fitter – even if you already have one or more long-term condition, you must actively reduce your risk of developing disease and you need to adopt a positive attitude to life, its problems and opportunities.”

Sir Muir Gray is an internationally renowned authority on healthcare systems and has advised governments in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and Germany and more. He has worked in the NHS since 1972 and chaired the board responsible for NHS Choices. He now heads the Oxford-based Better Value Healthcare Institute, which is concerned with increasing efficiency in the NHS.

Sir Muir Gray’s most recent book, Sod 70!, is a guide to living well and is packed with practical ideas to help the elderly get fit and healthy, in body and mind.

The SW AHSN is based at Pynes Hill Court, Exeter. It is part of a national network of 15 AHSNs, set up by NHS England to identify, adopt and disseminate innovative healthcare.