Mayor publishes response to London Health Commission

24 February 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has published his response to the London Health Commission's report 'Better Health for London', committing to personally chair the board tasked with delivering the plan and announcing a £250,000 cash boost for his London Healthy Workplace Charter. Chaired by Lord Ara Darzi, the independent Commission set up by the Mayor in September 2013, was tasked with investigating ways to improve London's health and healthcare.

The result - 'Better Health for London' - proposed over 60 recommendations and ten ambitions for the capital covering issues such as improving children's health, encouraging healthier lifestyles and making London's healthcare services work better for Londoners. Improving the health of London's workforce is among the ambitions outlined in the report and the Mayor today announced a £250,000 boost for his London Healthy Workplace Charter, which works with employers across the capital to encourage staff to be more active and take healthier lifestyle choices.

Almost 14 million working days a year are lost to sickness absence in London with research showing that an average London firm of 250 employees can lose almost £5,000 a week due to sickness absence.

Physically active workers take 27 per cent fewer sick days than non-physically active counterparts so improving health and wellbeing of staff not only saves money by reducing levels of absence, but can also boost economic output. The extra cash announced today will be used to engage over 1,000 London-based employers over the next two years who will join the 44 organisations, employing almost 140,000 people that are already signed up the Charter.

As part of his response the Mayor also accepted a recommendation to 'personally chair a group and prepare a unified delivery plan' for the report by continuing to act as chair for a refocused London Health Board which will oversee delivery of the report's aspirations.

The Board, a partnership between London's boroughs, the NHS and the Mayor of London will now focus on progressing improvements in London's health, health inequalities and making the case for the investment London needs in health and care services and the wider determinants of health.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'The aspirations in this report are the right ones for London and will, I believe, set us firmly on the path to becoming the healthiest capital city in the world. Putting Londoners at the centre of care they receive is key, as is the importance of public health which is why I'm expanding my Healthy Workplace Charter to help even more of London's workforce stay healthy and productive. 'I don't support measures such as a smoking ban in open spaces or sin taxes which would, in my view, fall most heavily on those who are least able to pay them. However I do believe in reducing the harm caused by poor health choices and look forward to working with London's boroughs and the NHS to progress the ambitions of this report and ensure London's health is protected.'

Notes to editors

1. To read the Mayor's full response please visit: www.london.gov.uk/london-health-commission.

2. The London Health Commission was launched in September 2013 by the Mayor of London. To find out more about the Commission and its work visit www.londonhealthcommission.org.uk.

3. The refocused London Health Board will meet for the first time on 12 March 2015.