Rationing of weight management services undermines health efforts

Dennis Cambell in The Guardian 20th July reports: Rationing of weight management services undermines health efforts

When everyone except the politicians talks openly about post-code and covert rationing we really are in denial. They have become the laughing stock of the professions. No wonder we have all disengaged..

Image result for rationing weight cartoon

Access is being restricted to exercise programmes, NHS health checks and mental health services, according to research by Royal Society for Public Health

People who are dangerously overweight are being denied vital help because weight management services are being rationed to save money, despite rising obesity, public health experts have revealed.

Access is also being restricted to exercise programmes, NHS health checks, mental health services and efforts to help smokers quit, according to new research by the Royal Society for Public Health.

In a survey it conducted of 100 public health officials working for the NHS and local councils just under half (49%) said that weight management programmes had been rationed in their area in the last year. Almost as many (44%) had seen restrictions placed on the availability of exercise referral programmes, which help people with diabetes or heart problems adopt healthier lifestyles.

Experts claimed the rationing would undermine efforts to counteract expanding waistlines. “To ration nationally agreed weight management programmes is both short-sighted and quite stupid. It could well be unethical if patients’ hope of returning to good health is prejudiced,” said Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum.

UKactive, which promotes physical activity, said limiting exercise referral programmes, in which GPs give patients a programme of regular exercises, was hard to understand given the known benefits of tackling sedentary behaviour.

“These findings are extremely worrying,” said Steven Ward, its executive director. “Being physically active can treat, prevent or manage 20 lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. This is a time for an industrial-scale rollout of services, not for reducing already established services.”

Over a third (35%) said access to NHS health checks had been limited in their area, while 32% had seen child and adolescent mental health services rationed, despite the sharp recent rise in concern about their unavailability.

People who are dangerously overweight are being denied vital help because weight management services are being rationed to save money, despite rising obesity, public health experts have revealed.

Access is also being restricted to exercise programmes, NHS health checks, mental health services and efforts to help smokers quit, according to new research by the Royal Society for Public Health.

In a survey it conducted of 100 public health officials working for the NHS and local councils just under half (49%) said that weight management programmes had been rationed in their area in the last year. Almost as many (44%) had seen restrictions placed on the availability of exercise referral programmes, which help people with diabetes or heart problems adopt healthier lifestyles.

Experts claimed the rationing would undermine efforts to counteract expanding waistlines. “To ration nationally agreed weight management programmes is both short-sighted and quite stupid. It could well be unethical if patients’ hope of returning to good health is prejudiced,” said Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum.

UKactive, which promotes physical activity, said limiting exercise referral programmes, in which GPs give patients a programme of regular exercises, was hard to understand given the known benefits of tackling sedentary behaviour.

“These findings are extremely worrying,” said Steven Ward, its executive director. “Being physically active can treat, prevent or manage 20 lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. This is a time for an industrial-scale rollout of services, not for reducing already established services.”

Over a third (35%) said access to NHS health checks had been limited in their area, while 32% had seen child and adolescent mental health services rationed, despite the sharp recent rise in concern about their unavailability.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, General Practitioners, Post Code Lottery, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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