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RCGP launches toolkit to incentivise promoting active lifestyles

The RCGP has unveiled an ‘active practice’ toolkit in a bid to incentivise GP practices to promote active lifestyles within patients and staff.

Launched in collaboration with Sport England, which uses National Lottery investment, the toolkit will be available to all practices across the UK – approximately 8,000 practices. 

The active practice charter encourages practices to sign up to learn how to make small changes in their surgery, such as standing desks and sending exercise advice to targeted disease groups.

The RCGP said the toolkit builds on existing initiatives and includes resources on how to partner with local activity providers such as local exercise classes or parkrun providers.

Practices who can demonstrate they have taken steps to increase physical activity in patients and staff will receive a certificate acknowledging their ‘active practice’ status.

The aim is to help busy GPs to start up a conversation about exercise with patients, according to Dr Andrew Boyd, the RCGP’s clinical champion for physical activity and lifestyle.

He said: ‘Busy GPs can’t be expected to do everything when it comes to getting the nation more active, but we can play a vital role in starting the conversation with patients.

‘By making small changes in our own workplace – using standing desks, encouraging active transport for staff, and partnering with local physical activity providers, for example – we can demonstrate to patients that being more active is good for everyone’s physical and mental health.’

Sport England chief executive CEO Tim Hollingworth said:This toolkit will help busy GPs talk to patients about getting active and recommend local opportunities as part of their routine practice. We’re delighted to be celebrating those GP practices who are promoting active lifestyles to patients and staff through the active practice charter.’

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘All GPs know that encouraging patients to be more active can have huge benefits on their health and wellbeing and, in some cases, drastically improve conditions such as diabetes and heart disease – even dementia.

‘But having the time to advise patients on lifestyle in the current 10-minute consultation can be a huge challenge, especially when there are often so many other things we need to discuss and when this probably wasn’t the reason the patient has made the appointment – so taking a practice-wide approach to encouraging healthier lifestyles, for all of us, is a great idea.’

It follows calls from the RCGP for 15-minute appointment times as standard in general practice.