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Department researchers to co-lead three-year programme centred around providing evidence-based information to GPs.

From the RCGP: What is the clinical priority programme?
There is an urgent need to reduce the growing burden of lifestyle related diseases, which cost the NHS billions every year. Through this work, we aim to support GPs and nurses access reliable, evidence-based information and training to aid shared-decisions and better support their patients in achieving healthier lifestyles.

Physical activity and lifestyle is the latest clinical priority to be announced by the Royal College of General Practitioners, with a programme of work planned for the next three years.

The programme is to be run in partnership with Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, which won the competitive process to deliver the work. It aims to support primary care professionals with reliable, evidence-based information to prevent and manage lifestyle-related diseases.

Lifestyle and environmental factors are leading causes of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and liver disease, which could be prevented or better treated through addressing diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption and psychosocial factors.

The new three-year programme, running until 2019, will support GPs and their teams - who deal with 90% of NHS patient contacts - to help manage their patients’ physical health, and ultimately reduce long-term pressure on the health service.  

Commenting on why this clinical area should be a priority for general practice, Dr David Nunan and Dr Kamal Mahtani, from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, and co-leading the priority, said:

“There is an urgent need to reduce the growing burden of lifestyle related diseases, which cost the NHS billions every year. Through this work, we aim to support GPs and nurses access reliable, evidence-based information and training to aid shared-decisions and better support their patients in achieving healthier lifestyles.”

“Chronic diseases resulting from poor lifestyles, including diet and a lack of physical activity, are a major public health problem worldwide and the health care system has an important role in helping tackle the problem.

"Working with the FSEM, the RCGP and it’s members to identify the needs of general practice and their patients, the priority aims to provide evidence-based tools and resources to help facilitate shared-decisions around lifestyle and physical activity for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.”

London-based General Practitioners Dr Zoe Williams and Dr Andrew Boyd have been appointed joint Clinical Champions for the programme.

Dr Williams said: “Despite one in six deaths being preventable by increasing physical activity, GPs often feel ill equipped, due to lack of training, time and incentives, to discuss physical activity levels with patients. 

“I’m delighted to take up this role and over the next three years aim to influence general practice staff and patients alike to make improvements to their lifestyle, and in doing so reduce demand on primary care, and the wider NHS, at a time when workload pressures are overbearing.”

Find out more about the RCGP’s Clinical Priorities Programme