Physical Activity and Lifestyle Announced as a Clinical Priority for GPs

Nordic Walking Horizontal Crop Websize

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has launched a Physical Activity and Lifestyle clinical priority running over three years from 2016-2019. Its aim is to support primary care professionals with reliable, evidence-based information to prevent and manage lifestyle-related diseases.

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) working group, dedicated to a UK wide clinical priority on physical activity for GPs chaired by FSEM Council member and GP Dr Christine Haseler, has succeeded in securing this clinical priority with the RCGP. The FSEM will now work as a delivery partner, alongside the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, at the University of Oxford, as part of the three year collaborative programme.

Commenting on why this clinical area should be a priority for general practice, Dr David Nunan and Dr Kamal Mahtani, from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, and Dr Brian Johnson and Dr Christine Haseler from the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, said:

“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 to reliable, evidence-based information and training to aid shared-decisions and better support their patients in achieving healthier lifestyles.”

GPs Dr Zoe Williams and Dr Andrew Boyd have been appointed joint Clinical Champions for the programme. 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.”

Lifestyle and environmental factors are leading causes of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and liver disease, which could be prevented or better treated through addressing diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption and psychosocial factors. The new three-year programme aims to support GPs and their teams – who deal with 90% of NHS patient contacts – to help manage their patients’ physical health, and ultimately reduce long-term pressure on the health service. Read the announcement on the RCGP website here.