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Alan Johnson: QOF will be developed to tackle obesity

By Lilian Anekwe

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has vowed to develop the QOF to enable GPs to tackle the UK's growing problem of obesity.

In a major speech on public health given at the Fabian Society, the UK's leading government policy think tank, Mr Johnson called for a national shift in attitude towards obesity – and underlined suggestions in the NHS Next Stage Review that GPs would be given the financial incentives to help people lose weight and lives healthier lifestyles.

Mr Johnson said the Government had a ‘moral duty' to address obesity, and would use the QOF and the facilities provided in the national network of polyclinics to arm GPs with the tools to tackle obesity in general practice.

‘Our drive to provide more GP practices for under-doctored areas gives us crucial impetus to tackle obesity. The BMA says that there isn't the capacity for GPs to able do this – well, by providing new practices we are creating the capacity. But we need to give more financial supper to make this happen – we recognise that.'

‘The QOF is crucial, but we need to decide with the BMA to make sure that we are not overloading the system.'

Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum and a GP in Watton-at-Stone in Hertfordshire, said he was encouraged by Alan Johnson's speech. ‘At least this shows obesity is high on the Government's agenda.

‘We have a register of obese people that we do nothing with, so it's next to useless. There's no incentive to identify or manage the other diseases that obese people may have.'

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