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RCGP endorses inclusion of weight management referrals in QOF

The RCGP has endorsed a recommendation to include the referral of patients to weight management in the QOF, as part of a programme of changes to reduce obesity in the UK.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ new campaign, Measuring Up, says something needs to be done about the ‘epidemic of obesity’ that is making the UK the ‘fat man of Europe’. It cites figures from the Health Survey for England 2009-11 shows that one quarter of men and women are obese and two thirds of adults are obese or overweight.

It makes a series of recommendations around education, investment and taxing soft drinks, which have been endorsed by its member colleges, including the RCGP.

The report said: ‘The departments of health in the four nations should together invest at least £100m in each of the next three financial years to extend and increase provision of weight management services across the country, to mirror the provision of smoking cessation services.’

This would include both early intervention programmes and provision for severe obesity, including bariatric surgery.

‘Adjustments could then be made to the QOF, providing incentives for GPs to refer patients to such services,’ the report added.

This follows a similar recommendation by the Royal College of Physicians and the inclusion of a duty to make ‘every contact count’ was added to the Government’s proposed changes to the NHS Constitution.

The report also called on royal colleges to promote targeted education and training programmes within the next two years for health professionals ‘to ensure “making every contact count” becomes a reality, particularly for those who have most influence on patient behaviour’.

The Government should also consider imposing a 20% duty on sugary soft drinks. ‘This would be an experimental measure, looking at price elasticity, substitution effects, and to what extent it impacts upon consumption patterns and producer/retailer responses,’ it said.

Professor Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said: ‘The RCGP supports this report. Obesity is not a problem that can be dealt with by doctors alone and there needs to be wider commitment by departments of health throughout the UK to help combat obesity such as meeting the report’s recommendation that each UK department of health invest at least £100m in each of the next three financial years to extend and increase provision of weight management services across the UK. GPs and their teams cannot do it on their own.’

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