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Moving Healthcare Professionals

Moving Healthcare Professionals is a national partnership programme led by us and Public Health England. It’s designed to help support healthcare professionals in promoting physical activity to the public.

The programme provides free peer-led training and practical resources to support healthcare professionals implement the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines on physical activity. The training and resources also includes guidance for treatment and prevention of a breadth of conditions that recommend physical activity, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

The critical role of healthcare professionals to increase activity among people has been highlighted in the national physical activity framework, Everybody Active Every Day, and is the driving force behind the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme. The programme also supports the government’s Sporting Future strategy, which set out an ambition to integrate sport and physical into care pathways.

A group of women in a health and exercise class.

Why we’re investing in healthcare professionals

Evidence shows that one in four people would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse, yet nearly three quarters of GPs don't speak about the benefits of physical activity to their patients because of either a lack of knowledge, skills or confidence.

This can be linked to a lack of training and support, with less than half confident in the area and more than half having not received specific training. Healthcare professionals can 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’re also considered a trusted source of advice, so what they say about physical activity and how they raise it as a topic could have a big impact on activity levels.

In addition, people 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 that we’ve identified. For example, people facing the highest level of economic disadvantage have a 60% higher prevalence of health conditions compared to those facing the least economic disadvantage, and 30% more severity of disease.

How the programme is making a difference

The programme, now in Phase Two of delivery, provides free evidence-based peer-led training and practical resources to support healthcare professionals across their career.

There are a number of strands to the Moving Healthcare Professionals programme:

1. Training existing healthcare professionals

So far, more than 25,000 practicing healthcare professionals have received practical training on physical activity and how to incorporate this advice in practice. An independent evaluation in 2019 found the training to effectively increase healthcare professional knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and their confidence to discuss this routinely as part of their clinical practice.

Our existing network of 47 healthcare professionals have been trained and supported to become Physical Activity Clinical Champions.  The network consists of medics, nurses, midwives allied healthcare professionals, pharmacist and psychologists who deliver one to three-hour training sessions to their peers.

NHS organisations can book free sessions with their local Physical Activity Clinical Champions by contacting, physicalactvitiy@phe.gov.uk

2. Development of resources

Moving Medicine is an evidence-based online resource, developed by The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine in partnership with over 300 professionals. It gives healthcare professionals access to disease-specific evidence on the role of physical activity. It also gives advice on how to bring up conversations, tailored to the patient (based on motivations, barriers and where applicable, health condition).

In addition, free e-learning modules on physical activity for the prevention and treatment of long-term conditions are available on BMJ Learning and on Health Education England’s e-learning for Healthcare.

3. Upskilling the next generation

The Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme aims to ensure the next generation of healthcare professionals have the right level of understanding around physical activity to inform the advice they give to members of the public.

In Phase One, half of medical schools and several schools of health were given tailored, site-based support to embed physical activity across their undergraduate curriculum.

Phase Two will see benchmarking of physical activity within the curricula of medical schools and schools of health, and development of a provision of support.

4. Testing innovative ideas

Diagnosis or beginning treatment for a condition and becoming a carer are key opportunities for reducing or increasing physical activity, and often occur in secondary care. In Phase One, Oxford University Hospital Trust was appointed to undertake a pilot embedding physical activity in the culture and processes of a hospital and its care pathways.

Led by the NHS Transformation Unit, the Active Hospitals project will work with Oxford University Hospital Trust and two new NHS pilot sites to embed and develop the learning from Phase One, alongside an innovative Active Hospital toolkit.

To find out more about the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme and how NHS organisations and local authorities can support healthcare professionals to improve their skills and knowledge, please contact physicalactivity@phe.gov.uk.

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