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‘Exercise prescription’ pilot could save NHS ‘absolutely phenomenal’ amount of money

PUBLISHED: 08:32 05 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:56 05 July 2018

Doctors in Suffolk are taking part in a national pilot to 'prescribe exercise' to patients. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Doctors in Suffolk are taking part in a national pilot to 'prescribe exercise' to patients. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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Doctors across Suffolk are “prescribing exercise” as part of a national trial.

One of the 'exercise prescription' forms used by Suffolk GPs as part of the national trial. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDOne of the 'exercise prescription' forms used by Suffolk GPs as part of the national trial. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The county has been selected by Public England as one of 10 areas around the country to be part of the Physical Activity Clinical Advice Pad Pilot Project (PACAP).

The pilot aims at supporting doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to give brief advice on physical activity for their patients – filling out a slip, much like a medical prescription, advising them on what types of exercise may improve their health.

Dr Chris Rufford, physical activity champion for Public Health England, and a part time GP in Suffolk, said the scheme could save the NHS an “absolutely phenomenal” amount of money through preventing illness.

He said: “It is just a pad, a tick box really, and the idea is doctors can give it to a patient to take away.

The number of obesity-related hospital admissions in Suffolk has doubled in the last four years. Picture: GETTY IMAGESThe number of obesity-related hospital admissions in Suffolk has doubled in the last four years. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

“If someone walks out with something like that they are more likely to follow it.

“The message to patients is don’t be surprised if you come away with an advice pad rather than a prescription.

“The money the scheme could save the NHS is absolutely phenomenal.”

He said a widespread scheme would allow doctors to give advice on exercise without it being seen as a attack on an individual.

“If all the practices are doing it, patients will expect it,” he said.

“If only one GP is doing it, they may get complaints.”

James Reeder, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, said: “We are really pleased to have been selected by Public Health England to be one of just 10 areas in the country to be involved in piloting a physical activity clinical advice pad.

“It is a really positive endorsement of our continuing efforts to address inactivity in Suffolk through the Most Active County Partnership.

“Working with our colleagues at the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and our Public Health England physical activity clinical champions, we are supporting around 75 clinicians across 15 
to 20 GP practices to provide brief advice on physical activity to their patients.

“We hope it will have a positive impact and will be rolled-out more widely in the future so that ultimately advice on physical activity becomes part of routine clinical practice.”


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