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#GPnews: British children among least active in the world

15:31 Kids in Britain are some of the least active children in the world, reports the Independent.

A study compared the activity levels of children from 38 countries, and rated England and Wales a ‘D minus’. Scottish children were rated the lowest grade, an ‘F’, putting it at joint bottom with countries such as Qatar, Chile and China.

Government recommendations state the children should do at least an hour of moderate physical activity a day but the report shows that only 15% of girls and 22% of boys aged 11-15 manage this.

The research showed that this is worse than similar findings two years ago, despite a Government childhood obesity pledge.

13:25 The Government is set to privatise the NHS in-house staff agency, the Independent has reported.

The Department of Health said in a written statement that it would sell off a majority stake in NHS Professionals, ‘so that the company is run and controlled by the new partner, which will carry the majority of the finance and operating risks of the business’.

The article says NHS Professionals provides 90,000 health workers to around a quarter of NHS trusts, covering two million shifts a year.

Labour shadow health secretary Justin Madders said: ‘At a time when the NHS  is struggling to cope with excessive sums being spent on agency staff it beggars belief that Jeremy Hunt is going to give the keys to the NHS’s own staffing agency to a private company,” he said.

‘Once again the Tory answer to the challenges facing the NHS is more privatisation.’

12:10 House of Commons health committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston, Totnes MP and former GP, has responded angrily to claims that NHS chief Simon Stevens is apparently in the firing line – for telling her the truth.

Mr Stevens agreed in front of the health committee the other week that the NHS isn’t being given £10bn more by 2021, despite vehement repetition by Prime Minister Theresa May, health secretary Jeremy Hunt and chancellor Philip Hammond that it really is.

The committee has pointed out that based on regular accounting it’s actually just £4.5bn, and politicians in charge should ‘stop pretending’ that ‘the NHS is awash with cash’.

And Dr Wollaston is arguing that NHS duty of candour must extend to those in charge of the health services, or it sends a pretty bad message to clinicians.

10:05 However – Dr Stokes-Lampard has since moved to clarify her comments on Five A Day, which she initially made in an interview with the Observer.

She said: ‘Five a Day is an excellent initiative; we want our patients to be healthier, and we want them to eat far more fruit and veg. We should certainly be aiming for this – and more – but the fact is that it remains an aspiration for many patients and as GPs we sometimes need to tailor our advice to the patient in front of us, based on their individual circumstances.

‘It’s not easy – or affordable – for many patients to eat five items of fruit or veg a day, and when they are faced with the temptation of cheaper unhealthy snacks, it’s understandable that they choose them. However, there are lots of great ways to buy and cook fresh food more cheaply which we all need to share widely.

‘We are absolutely not advocating unhealthy diets or for our patients to lead unhealthy lifestyles, but the message needs to be realistic for the patient in front of us.

‘We need to make eating healthier easier and more affordable – and as a society we need to do more to encourage our patients to lead more active lifestyles.’

09:28 New RCGP chair Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard is urging GPs to stop telling patients to have their five a day, it was widely reported on the weekend.

Dr Stokes-Lampard pointed out that for poorer patients, fresh produce is not affordable, and they should be advised to aim for one or two portions of fruit and veg instead, writes the Mail.

‘If people see something as unachievable, they won’t even start. We should give them the advice that anything is better than nothing,’ she said.

Professor Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University, said: ‘I don’t think the chairman of the Royal College of GPs should be saying things like this.

‘The recommendation is five a day, but that should be the minimum – people should eat more.’