Changing the conversation about health

How to make GPs stay? Work to reduce lifestyle-related illnesses putting such strain on the NHS

Heather Richards, Director of Nutrition at the Sano School of Culinary Medicine, writes on how GPs need to be better equipped on nutrition if the burden on the healthcare system is to be reduced…

Nutrition knowledge for healthcare professionals and involvement in community projects is the future of General Practice. With the rise of chronic disease and the resulting strain on the healthcare service, we have to collectively find a way to ease the burden. General Practice which is loved by so many medics is fast becoming less appealing as they are able to spend less quality time with patients.

‘Medical school provides
very little nutrition
education. There’s an
urgent need to educate
healthcare professionals, GPs and trainee doctors with a grounding in evidence-based nutrition…’

Shining example: The Lambeth GP Food Co-Op group in London began six years ago…and now has 11 growing gardens connecting GPs with their communities

Often patients have to wait weeks for an appointment, they are allocated less than 10 minutes for an appointment and may not consistently see the same doctor. This is a far cry from the traditional General Practice where a GP knew their patient and the family and there was a sense of community…

An immense strain on the healthcare system arises because of chronic disease which is frequently lifestyle driven so it stands to reason that addressing lifestyle disease could lead to a healthcare model with longevity as well as making us a healthier nation! So how can we all play a part in making this change?

Providing GPs skills they need to help patients with lifestyle disease is vital and one of the most obvious gaps in their knowledge is nutrition.

Medical school provides very little nutrition education and there is an urgent need to educate healthcare professionals, GPs and trainee doctors with a grounding in evidence-based nutrition.

In the words of Dr Michael Dixon, GP, Chairman of College of Medicine and NHS lead for Social Prescribing; ‘Food is by far the most important factor in health and illness.’

Lifestyle disease is not only driven by unhealthy eating though; we also live in a society where loneliness, stress, physical inactivity and a lack of purpose in life are commonplace and there is a need for not only nutrition knowledge by healthcare professionals but for General Practice to be involved in community projects…