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GPs to be able to refer an extra 700,000 patients for weight management

Weight management

The Government has announced a £70m investment to tackle obesity, via a new GP enhanced service and 700,000 extra adults accessing weight management services.

An additional £30m will be spent on healthy weight initiatives and campaigns, with a proportion also going towards upskilling healthcare professionals, the Government announced.

The news comes on the back of the Government’s obesity strategy, published last July, in which it had expressed a wish for obesity indicators to be added to the QOF this year.

Although NICE proposals for new indicators were pushed back by opposition from the BMA’s GP Committee, the BMA is in talks with NHS England about the introduction of a new enhanced service on obesity and weight management during 2021/22.

A primary care bulletin from NHS England this afternoon stated that the funding boost includes:

  • ‘additional investment for a digital weight management programme for people with obesity and diabetes and/or hypertension, which will be implemented from April 2021;
  • the development of a proposed GP enhanced service; and
  • investment to develop Tier 3 and 4 services’.

Meanwhile, the Government said the funding would enable ‘up to 700,000 adults’ access to ‘support that can help them to lose weight, from access to digital apps, weight management groups or individual coaches, to specialist clinical support’.

It also said healthcare professionals in early years and childhood would be ‘upskilled’ to help ‘up to 6,000 children and families to lead healthy lives’.

Announcing the investment, the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘This funding will support GPs and other health professionals to help make weight management an integral part of routine care.

‘It will encourage clinicians to have conversations about weight with their patients and enable them to refer patients to new services.’

However, with 28% of England’s population estimated to be obese, some 1.6 million patients could require a referral to a weight management service – not accounting for a further 36% estimated to be overweight.

Opposing NICE’s draft proposal for new QOF indicators last year – which had suggested GPs should refer all obese patients for weight management services – BMA had highlighted ‘major’ concerns with a lack of referral options.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘These measures will allow us to work with local authorities and optimise different areas of our healthcare services to encourage healthy behaviours for all.’

He added that the ‘urgency’ of tackling obesity ‘has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from Covid-19′.


Dave Haddock 5 March, 2021 8:37 am

Have weight management clinics helped anyone to lose weight, ever? Bariatric surgery is the only medical intervention that works, and is suitable for only a tiny minority.
More squandering.

David Banner 5 March, 2021 8:43 am

Here we go again. A new administration thinks it can reverse the trend in obesity with yet another round of referrals to weight management clinics. GPs inundated with requests to fill out lengthy forms, massive DNA rates, short term weight loss then all back on at discharge. The service collapses into chaos then is cut. And repeat every 5 years ad infinitum.
The obesity epidemic was mainly caused by the Macdonaldisation of our diet and a dramatic drop in physical activity. Within a generation we started measuring poverty by how OVER weight people were, not under.
If HMG is serious about obesity, it needs to take radical action on the food industry, not burden GPs with a box ticking, form filling exercise in futility. Traffic light food, add 20% tax to red, reduce 20% from green. The lobbyists have dodged and weaved this idea for decades, but if we really are bothered about obesity then it’s time to force the food industry to change.

Turn out The lights 5 March, 2021 9:19 am

Weight management in virtual non existent clinics with no effect.Yawn pathetic lip service to the problem.The definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different out come.

John Graham Munro 5 March, 2021 12:36 pm


Chris GP 5 March, 2021 12:37 pm

Praise be for we are saved! The individual that came up with this revolutionary never thought of before plan should be congratulated. Incredible. Such lateral thinking.

Decorum Est 5 March, 2021 12:50 pm