Weight management enhanced service in England ‘flawed’, says BMA GP chair

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Thursday 17 June 2021

Responding to the announcement of two new enhanced services for general practice in England, for weight management and long-Covid1, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:

“As today’s GPs appointment data shows, practices are already buckling under the pressure of unsustainable workloads as they struggle to meet demand and provide care that patients so desperately need.

“Whilst the BMA believes that it is vitally important as a nation much more is done to help and support people with weight management – and particularly for government to take greater steps to address the underlying issues behind rising obesity levels – today’s announced enhanced service is fundamentally flawed, will have little to no impact in tackling the problem, and will present significant rise in workload at a time when practices are at breaking point.

“Obesity can have a devastating impact on people, their health and ultimately their way of life, and GPs want to be able to support their patients in the best way possible. However, this ES is not the right way to do it. It is clinically flawed, overly bureaucratic and shows a lack of trust in GPs and their teams to do what is best for patients. It tries to micromanage practices and creates a laborious tick-box exercise, the very limited funding for which does not match up with the work involved, with a cap on funding that could limit people who could benefit from it. Meanwhile, it is no use having such a scheme in general practice when receiving specialist services are so patchy across the country, with many having long waiting times or being already full.

“The enhanced service focusing on long-Covid follows our lobbying and has more merit, providing much-needed additional funding to support practices in this crucially important and developing area. Long-Covid is becoming a serious problem within our communities – something practices are already feeling – and we note that funding is available for practices to help with the management of patients living with the debilitating after-effects of the virus. This programme must be kept under review, however, with more resources provided to keep up with demand as necessary, while ensuring additional, specialist support for patients with long-Covid is available beyond general practice.

“Further, the problems facing increasing numbers of healthcare workers in general practice who themselves have long-Covid needs addressing urgently, and it's imperative that NHSEI and government provide occupational health access and financial support for those in general practice to avoid losing valuable and much needed colleagues from the workforce. It is unacceptable that over a year since the pandemic began, frontline healthcare workers continue to have to make the case for such basic requirements from the Government.

“GPs and their colleagues in the wider practice team care for their patients, and want to give them the best treatment possible for their conditions, but there is a limit to what they can do. Ultimately practices need to be given the trust and flexibility to do what they can within resource, time and staffing constraints to meet the needs of their patients, based on their expert knowledge of their communities.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Further details here.