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Obesity referral crisis

GPs are left unable to refer to paediatric obesity services because of a lack of provision in secondary care, MPs have warned.

A Public Accounts Committee report on childhood obesity found a lack of care pathways for children with obesity led to confusion over treatment and referral.

The report said NHS capacity for treating childhood obesity 'remains limited', with community programmes and specialist paediatric services only available in some areas.

It said the Department of Health had provided tools for GPs on how to manage obesity through the Obesity Care Pathway for Children, but not all PCTs had pathways in place.

Anne Brooke, a member of the committee and Liberal Democrat MP for Mid Dorset and Poole North, said it was up to the Government to track problems and make GPs aware of local programmes.

'The Government level is where it's falling apart. GPs have got to know what the local programmes are, and I'm sure it'll be patchy across the country. It'll be difficult,' she said.

Tam Fry, honorary chair of the Child Growth Foundation, said the nation was still in the dark ages when it came to management and treatment of obese children, and that the issue was a 'spiralling mess'.

He added: 'The department has got an enormous amount of work to do to provide an infrastructure GPs can actually work with. They are confused and don't know where to go because the whole thing hasn't been implemented.'

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