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GPs could refer patients wanting advice on improving their lifestyle to an army of new health trainers who will give them a personal health guide.

The proposal in the White Paper appears to water down initial plans, revealed by Pulse last month, to give every patient the right to a personal health plan from their GP.

But the Choosing Health paper fails to make clear whether GPs will still have to provide personal plans if patients ask for them.

Although no mention is made of GPs' role in the main text, a 'scenario' (below) involving a fictional patient outlined in the paper indicated GPs will be heavily involved in drawing up the plans.

GPs have warned that any proposals for them to take a bigger role in health promotion will mean a massive increase in workload and will only encourage the 'worried well' to descend on practices.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum branded the White Paper 'high on wishes, low on details' and said more information was needed on GPs' role. He added: 'We would welcome anything that supports people getting fitter but my concern is that it will be geared towards helping the worried well.'

The Government has said it will release further guidance in the new year which will indicate how it intends to implement its proposals.

Other GPs raised concerns over the workload implications if they do have to provide personal health plans.

GPC member Dr Kailash Chand said the proposals were fine in theory, but may not translate into reality. He said: 'There are a whole range of problems, especially workload.'

What the paper says on...

health guides

·Everyone will get the chance to develop a personal health guide

·Each guide will show the contribution the NHS will make in partnership with its owner

·Everyone will have access to NHS health trainers to help them draw up and review their guide

·GPs' role unclear

By Joe Lepper

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