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Important for GPs to be aware of up to date clinical guidelines around physical activity, says RCGP

She said: "GPs want our patients to live long and healthy lives, but without regular physical activity patients are putting themselves at risk of life-threatening diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer – all of which will have a considerable negative impact on a patient's quality of life, and cost the NHS billions every year.

"GPs will always consider a patient's lifestyle - along with other physical, psychological and social factors that might be affecting their health - when making a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan, and this often will include conversations about their weight and lifestyle choices.

"It's really important that GPs and our teams are aware of up to date clinical guidelines around physical activity - and the tools available to us to best implement them in the best interests of our patients - so it is clear from this research that more needs to be done by Public Health England and others to ensure these resources are readily available to GPs.

"What is also clear is that when GPs are aware of these tools - as the majority are - use of them is being stifled because of a lack of time and resources to do so effectively, particularly within the constraints of the standard 10-minute consultation, which is increasingly unfit for purpose, especially for patients with complex health needs.

"The Royal College of General Practitioners is certainly playing our part in supporting GPs and our teams to encourage patients to live healthier lives – we have made Physical Activity and Lifestyle a clinical priority, and are producing a toolkit of educational resources for this purpose. 

"We are also developing an 'active practice' model, to encourage GPs to talk more with patients about exercise, and work closely with local physical activity providers in the community. 

"Ultimately, we need the pledges in NHS England's GP Forward View, including £2.4bn a year for general practice and an extra 5,000 full-time equivalent GPs by 2020, to be delivered in full and as a matter of urgency so that GPs can spend longer with our patients and inspire them to make improvements to their lifestyle, in the best interests of their long-term health and wellbeing."

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