GP surgeries should employ fitness trainers to help build physical activity into their patients’ care plans, exercise campaigners say.
The call is one of several key recommendations outlined in a report launched by ukactive, a non-profit organisation that is headed up by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and links up experts and ‘strategic partners’ involved in the ‘active lifestyle sector’ – including the gym group Fitness First and the drinks corporation Coca Cola.
The report says a ‘healthy population is essential to a thriving productive economy that is competitive in the global race’ and calls for an ‘industrial-scale level of cooperation between the physical activity sector and a government that unites the support of a broad range of partners such as major charities and commercial brands’.
Among recommendations aimed specifically at the NHS, it calls for the integration of physical activity with clinical care and says that ‘every GP surgery should have access to a trained physical-activity professional, equipped to deliver an evidence-based physical activity behavioural intervention’.
It adds: ‘Their implementation should be supported by local authorities and CCGs to build bridges and become a recognised part of local delivery services both within primary care and beyond.’
The report also calls for disabled people to ‘have access to a named physical activity behaviour change intervention at their local GP surgery, utilising evidence-based techniques like motivational interviewing, and involving disabled people as peer mentors and role models in its design and delivery’.
Professor Mike Pringle, president of the RCGP, said the initiatives outlined by ukactive could ‘go a long way to raising awareness of the importance of physical activity – and support GPs and our teams to deliver services that could make a real difference to our patients’ lives’.
He added that ‘encouraging our patients to be more active is a key factor in ensuring a sustainable NHS for the future’, but said the Government should ‘invest more in general practice – including creating thousands more GPs – so that we can continue to deliver the care our patients need and deserve’.