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GPs to receive help to improve patients’ physical activity

RCGP announces physical activity and lifestyle as new clinical priorities

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 27 June 2016

GPs will be offered additional help and advice on how to improve their patients’ physical activity and lifestyle over the next three years.

The RCGP has announced that “physical activity and lifestyle” will be a clinical priority for the next three years, running from 2016-2019.

This is the latest clinical priority from the college, which is designed to support primary care professionals with reliable, evidence-based information to prevent and manage lifestyle-related diseases.

Under the college’s Clinical Priority Programme, it selects clinical areas to raise their profile and increase awareness within and across general practice, guided by a senior clinician appointed to be a clinical champion who provides clinical leadership for each programme.

The new three-year programme, plans to support GPs and their teams to help manage their patients’ physical health, and ultimately reduce long-term pressure on the health service. 

The college said that lifestyle and environmental factors were leading causes of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and liver disease, which could all be prevented or treated better through addressing diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption and psychosocial factors.

Dr Zoe Williams and Dr Andrew Boyd have been appointed joint clinical champions for the programme, which will be run in partnership with the Nuffield Department of Primary Care and Health Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Dr Williams said: “Despite one in six deaths being preventable by increasing physical activity, GPs often feel ill equipped, due to lack of training, time and incentives, to discuss physical activity levels with patients.

“I’m delighted to take up this role and over the next three years aim to influence general practice staff and patients alike to make improvements to their lifestyle, and in doing so reduce demand on primary care, and the wider NHS, at a time when workload pressures are overbearing.”

Brian Johnson, David Nunan, Kamal Mahtani and Christine Haseler, from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said in a joint statement: “There is an urgent need to reduce the growing burden of lifestyle-related diseases, which cost the NHS billions every year.

“Through this work, we aim to support GPs and nurses access reliable, evidence-based information and training to aid shared-decisions and better support their patients in achieving healthier lifestyles.”

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