NHS England has announced £20m of new funding for a new weight management GP enhanced service.
Under the proposals, practices would be encouraged to ‘develop a supportive environment’ to engage with obese patients about their weight and be paid to refer people to weight management services, such as the new NHS Digital Weight Management Service.
In a letter to GPs today, NHS England said it was offering practices the voluntary opportunity to sign up to the scheme which is one of two new enhanced services from July backed by £50m of additional funding for 2021/22.
The second is a £30m for an enhanced service for GPs to treat patients with long Covid, as reported by Pulse earlier this week.
The two new voluntary enhanced services that will start on 1 July have been chosen as priority areas in the recovery from the pandemic, it said.
Setting out the detail, NHS England said that GP identification of people with obesity – defined as a BMI over 30 or higher than 27.5 for those of Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups – had fallen during the pandemic.
The scheme will help practices put in place a proactive approach for identifying obesity which is ‘fit for purpose’ in a world of virtual consultations and which allows patients to actively update their own records, it said.
Practices that sign up will be paid £11.50 per patient living with obesity who is referred to eligible weight management services.
From July the NHS Digital Weight Management Service should become the default for obese patients with hypertension and or diabetes and will have capacity for up to 270,000 patients in this financial year.
GPs can also refer to local authority funded tier 2 weight management services, the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme or tier 3 or 4 services.
It does not need to happen within standalone consultations but for many practices will be done opportunistically as part of other patient contact, the letter said.
Discussions around introducing an enhanced service on weight management had already been mooted when the Government announced £70m for tackling obesity back in March.
The Government’s obesity strategy, published last July, expressed a wish for obesity indicators to be added to the QOF this year.
Further temporary funding will also be provided to support PCN clinical directors for July to September, extending the £32.5m already allocated for April to June for the Covid-19 response, the letter said.
And NHS England reiterated previously confirmation that no new PCN services or further Investment and Impact fund indicators will be introduced until 1 October at the earliest.