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‘Moving Medicine’ tool will aid dialogue about exercise

Digital tool to encourage activity hailed as ‘single most important advance in therapeutics in 50 years’

Louise Prime

Thursday, 18 October 2018

A new tool to help doctors have conversations with patients about how staying active can help them manage their conditions, prevent disease and aid recovery, has been hailed as the “single most important advance in therapeutics in 50 years”. The Royal College of GPs (RCGP), which helped to create the digital "Moving Medicine" tool, said it is aimed at supporting GPs and their teams in the limited time they have available, not to “tell” them what to do or be proscriptive about how to conduct consultations.

The tool was produced by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and Sport England with support from National Lottery funding, and was launched at this week’s International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress (ISPAH).

Developers said that, currently, one in four of England’s population does less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week and are classified as inactive – and physical inactivity is in the top 10 greatest causes of ill health nationally, with negative impacts on health, wellbeing, social and economic outcomes for individuals and communities. They said evidence shows that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse, yet nearly three-quarters of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients because of either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence.

Moving Medicine is designed to provide healthcare professionals with the latest evidence to address this knowledge and skills gap in the NHS, and was developed in consultation with more than 300 healthcare professionals and patients and using evidence-based step-by-step guidance. It focuses on helping to address the most common long-term health conditions affecting the population – such as cancer, depression, musculoskeletal pain and type 2 diabetes.

Sir J. A. Muir Gray, consultant in public health in Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust and a professor in the University of Oxford’s department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said: “Moving Medicine is the single most important advance in therapeutics in my 50 years in medicine. The benefit to harm ratio is outstandingly favourable and every drug or psychological prescription for a long-term condition should be partnered by a Moving Medicine prescription of activity.”

The RCGP said physical activity and lifestyle is a clinical priority for the College, and GPs do often talk with patients about healthy lifestyle. But Dr Andrew Boyd, joint clinical champion for physical activity and lifestyle at the College, said yesterday: “GPs and our teams are currently working under intense resource and workforce pressure, and we are constantly being told to do more during our consultations with patients – all within the constraints of a standard 10-minute appointment. Fitting everything in can be impossible, especially if these issues might not be the reason a patient has come to visit the GP… further support to have what can be sensitive conversations, in sensitive circumstances is always welcome.”

He added: “The College has worked with others to develop the primary care module of the upcoming Moving Medicine resource to ensure it provides useful information and guidance. The aim is to support GPs and our teams – not to ‘tell’ GPs what to do or be proscriptive about how we conduct our consultations.”

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