GPs should be incentivised to manage obesity more effectively and regard each patient consultation as an opportunity to deal with weight issues, says a report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
The ‘Action on Obesity’ report said GPs should ‘where possible and appropriate’ try to intervene to encourage healthier lifestyles, with evidence-based targets included in QOF.
It also said that GPs should be trained in motivational interviewing in order to meet the NHS’s stated aim of ‘making every contact count’ in terms of dealing with lifestyle issues.
The report comes after the GPC said several of the QOF indicators incentivising practices to promote better lifestyle choices that Government wants to impose on practices were ‘unworkable’. It also comes after NICE released draft guidance that said GPs should screen all adults for their exercise habits and offer advice to those not sufficiently active.
GPs will also be mandated to ‘make every contact count’ to ensure their patients are leading healthier lives under proposed changes to the NHS Constitution, in a change of emphasis supported by the RCP report.
It said that GPs should ‘where possible and appropriate, deal with weight issues as part of their agenda to address risk factors’.
It also said primary care had a ‘core responsibility’ to prevent obesity and that ‘each consultation provides a potential opportunity for this.’
The report concludes: ‘It is therefore important that GPs have training in a range of practical behaviouiral techniques such as motivational interviewing.
‘The effective application of these skills to weight management and obesity should be part of GP training and ongoing professional development. Inclusion of evidence-based targets for successful obesity management should be included in the QOF in order to support this practice.’
Professor John Wass, chair of the working party and academic vice-president of the RCP, said: ‘Britain is getting bigger and whilst we try to prevent the increase in obesity, we must also prepare the NHS for the influx of patients presenting with severe complex obesity. A patient may arrive at my hospital with coronary heart disease, but if the root cause of their condition is obesity, we must be equipped to deal with that root cause.’
It comes as NICE QOF lead Dr Helen Lester has spoken out to say that a QOF indicator that would see GPs promoting exercise habits is workable in practice.