Evidence shows that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse, yet nearly three quarters of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients due to either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence.
We therefore partnered with Public Health England and other professional bodies to establish the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme to help address this barrier and support healthcare professionals to promote physical activity to their patients.
The programme provides peer-led training and is developing practical resources to support healthcare professionals implement the NICE guidance on physical activity, and guidance for treatment of a breadth of conditions that recommend physical activity.
Moving Healthcare Professionals also supports the delivery of Sporting Future which set out a clear ambition to promote the integration of sport and physical activity into care pathways and maximise the potential of advice, prescribing and referral interventions by health and social care professionals.
Healthcare professionals are able to reach a large percentage of the population. More than one in 10 people visit their GP every two weeks and there are 1.2 million health-related visits to a community pharmacy every day. There are over 650,000 healthcare professionals in the country who are estimated to each see nearly half a million patients during their career. They are also considered a trusted source of advice, so what they say about physical activity and how they raise it could have a big impact on activity levels.
In addition, those who are regularly engaging with healthcare professionals (those with or at risk of developing health conditions) are far more likely to be inactive and are also more likely to be key target audiences which we have identified. For example, people facing the highest level of economic disadvantage have a 60% higher prevalence of health conditions than those facing the least and 30% more severity of disease.
How the programme is making a difference
There are multiple strands to the Moving Healthcare Professionals programme:
Training existing healthcare professionals
22,000 practicing healthcare professionals have received practical training on physical activity and how to incorporate this advice in practice. We have trained and supported a national network of over 35 healthcare professionals acting as clinical physical activity champions.
There are 15 GP clinical champions, four non-medic clinical champions (midwife, pharmacist, physiotherapist and psychologist) and 18 nurse clinical champions who provide peer to peer training. The champions provide free training sessions to groups of healthcare professionals. To find out more or to book a session contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Development of resources
Moving Medicine is an evidence based health-care professional physical activity resource which has been developed. This is an innovative digital resource based on behavioural science, developed by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (and a 500 strong development team, professional bodies and expert partners such as health charities) that will provide healthcare professionals with access to disease-specific evidence on the role of physical activity and also advice on how to bring up conversations, tailored to the patient (based on motivations, barriers and where applicable, health condition). More information can be found here.
Sarah Ruane, our strategic lead for health, said: “We know that it can be difficult to fit being active into busy lives. But for people who are dealing with illness or injury the thought of being active can be even more daunting. That’s why healthcare professionals have such a vital role to play. Moving Medicine is a simple idea with huge potential to transform the lives of the millions of people who are inactive and living with health conditions. Equipping healthcare professionals with the practical information that they need to have supportive conversations with their patients, will help many more people to experience the range of health benefits that being active can bring.”
In addition, e-learning CPD physical activity resources have been developed and are being accessed by thousands of health care professionals. E-learning modules on physical activity in the treatment of long-term conditions funded by PHE are available on the British Medical Journal. A new suite of modules are currently in development through the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme and will be available on Health Education England’s E-learning for Health platform in early 2019.
Upskilling the next generation
The programme aims to ensure the next generation of healthcare professionals will have the right level of knowledge and understanding of physical activity and the advice they should give to
patients. A consortium of experts have updated physical activity resources for medical schools. These experts have also conducted a thorough analysis on the current landscape by meeting with 16 of these schools and seven allied health professional schools to understand more about current barriers and opportunities for the inclusion of physical activity in their respective curriculum, discuss its importance and share the resources developed.
Testing innovative ideas
A national feasibility and acceptability pilot is underway for a ‘prescription’-style pad that healthcare professionals can use when advising patients on increasing their physical activity. The intervention is currently being tested and refined in all of the test sites across a range of health care settings.
In addition a Sport and Exercise Medicine pilot, taking place at Oxfordshire University Hospital Trust, appointed a team of experts who are exploring how to embed physical activity across a hospital, into five clinical pathways (e.g. maternity, cardiology, etc.) tailored to the needs of the individual departments to improve patient outcomes and to begin to build a business case for changing the culture of the NHS. An Active Hospital toolkit is also in development.