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Plans for 20% sugar tax in hospital cafes, says NHS chief

  • 8 Comments

NHS plans could see trusts and health centres in England introduce a sugar tax to help bring down rates of obesity, the head of the health service has said.

Under the proposals, drinks and snacks sold in hospital canteens and vending machines that are high in sugar could cost more in a bid to encourage staff, patients and visitors to choose healthier options instead.

”All of us working in the NHS have a responsibility…to draw attention to wider changes that will improve the health of this country”

Simon Stevens

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens said the proposed 20% tax – which is expected to raise around £20m to £40m a year – would be used to fund staff health and wellbeing programmes.

It is expected the plans will be introduced on a rolling basis, as contracts with caterers and shops are due for renewal over the next three to five years and would be in place by 2020.

According to a statement from NHS England, a consultation on the proposals is expected to look at several approaches, including charging the fee to vendors.

The plans will be developed to work alongside the government’s forthcoming national childhood obesity strategy, it added.

“Because of the role that the NHS occupies in national life, all of us working in the NHS have a responsibility not just to support those who look after patients but also to draw attention to and make the case for some of the wider changes that will actually improve the health of this country,” said Mr Stevens.

Simon Stevens NHS England chief executive

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

“By 2020, we’ve either got these practices out of hospitals or we’ve got the equipment of a sugar tax on the back of them,” he added.

Mr Stevens’ comments came in an interview with The Guardian, in which he also called for ministers to take tougher action against the increasing problem of obesity.

He suggested food companies should be forced to reduce the sugar content in their products, similar to an approach that was taken with reducing added salt levels in food.

Last year, Public Health England published a report on ways to reduce the nation’s sugar intake and tackle obesity.

It noted almost 25% of adults, 10% of 4 to 5 year olds and 19% of 10 to 11 year olds in England were obese, with around £5.1bn spent on treating the condition in the NHS every year.

One of its recommendations was to introduce a sugar tax of 10-20%, for drinks in particular.

  • 8 Comments

Readers' comments (8)

  • I can see the point but...what about personal responsibility . not all of us are sugaring away and sugar is in even the most healthy products or broken down into sugar/fat or protein. where will it all end.

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  • what is next? 25% tax increase in breathing air? or 50% time decrease in toilet breaks? all for our benefit and safety. If I need a sugary drinks is to perk my energy and manage to finish a shift. this is because of lack of breaks and overworking. nice one. why don't you start this experiment with all the fatties from the councils and other "exhausting" office workers with huge behinds?

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  • Pussy

    I doubt it will ever happen and if it does it won't make one iota of difference to health. More nanny state. Gets tedious doesn't it?

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  • There are many hospitals that only have vending machines in areas such as A & E and outpatients. If you are waiting there sometimes the only things to eat from them are crisps or something sweet. To me this seems like just another way to raise money from those who don't have the opportunity or time to seek out anything else.

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  • Our hospital sell only sugar free drinks - oh yes, also, crisps, chocolate, ice cream, and chips with everything in the dining room, along with fried foods, high calorie puddings. The only thing that will happen here is that patients, staff and visitors have no choice but to purchase what is availble to them on site and pay the increased tax. Totally agree with 'Pussy' it won't change a thing - just another money grabbing tax scheme, with an easy target. The public are being exposed to information overload and will ignore everything - I witness this on a daily basis.

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  • like the way it is being peddled as a way of improving the health of staff, NOT, that will cause resentment, you could remove all these rip off shops and provide cheap healthy foods instead

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  • To Anonymous
    18 January, 2016 6:57 pm,

    Do as I do take your own food from home, much cheaper than buying food at work especially if using vending machine, and if you take fresh food from home its not full of sugar, salt or preservatives etc, so much better all round. I even take my own drinks as well, it is all quite feasible, and not that hard to do. Maybe be having a 'sugar" tax on foods, and drinks it would start to make people aware of what products have sugar in them, it is amazing the amount of savoury products laced with sugar. Rather than using sugary drinks to give energy boosts look at having complex carbohydrates these will give longer sustained energy and brain function then one does not require the quick sugary boosts.

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  • Avoid processed food, sweeteners, gmo's and foods sprayed with chemicals, go with organic or grow your own. I do my own research, I don't need to be told what to eat thank you very much. Anonymously has to agree with Pussy on this one, nannie state and yes, it is rather tiresome. :D

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