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Wed 27 Oct 2010 16:30 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 26 October 2010

In the past few years NHS-funded schemes have sprung up, offering financial incentives in the form of shopping vouchers to encourage people to be more healthy.

The schemes target a whole range of behaviours, from quitting smoking and eating less to getting teenagers to turn up for a Chlamydia test or a vaccine.

Mexico, the US and parts of Europe have already used financial incentives to promote health. Now NICE is seeking views from the British public on whether we think it's acceptable for the NHS to do the same.

But does paying people to be healthy work? Claudia Hammond assesses the evidence and makes a discovery that astonishes her.

In one completely unexpected area of healthcare - drug addiction - shopping vouchers are proving to be not only effective, but cost effective too.

But a Department of Health spokesperson has said that financial incentives 'should only be used as a last resort' to promote health.

The Director of the National Addiction Centre, Professor John Strang, disagrees. When it comes to addiction, 'it's bordering on negligent not to be willing to do that'.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.


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