NHS England will impose a 20% tax on sugary food and drink in hospitals, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has announced.
Hospitals across England will charge more for high-sugar drinks and snacks sold in their cafes and vending machines, in a bid to reduce the number of staff, patients and visitors that buy them.
In an interview with the Guardian, he said that the levy would raise £20 to £40 million a year – which would be used to improve the health of NHS staff – and would be rolled out over the next five years.
Staff 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,” he stated.
This comes after a report from Public Health England stated that a 10-20% tax on high-sugar products would help to achieve a “meaningful” reduction in sugar consumption.
Stevens added: “We will be consulting on introducing an NHS sugar tax on various beverages and other sugar-added foods across the NHS, which would be enforced over time as contracts for food catering and the shops that are in the foyers of hospitals come up for renewal over the next three to five years over a rolling basis.
“It’s not just the wellbeing of people in this country and our children. But it’s also the sustainability of the NHS itself,” he added.