Viewpoint - Differing GP views on children's lack of exercise and obesity

In his latest guest editorial of the year, RCGP Scotland chairman Dr John Gillies looks at obesity, a new cancer survival campaign and RCGP Scotland's anniversary.

Dr John Gillies
Dr John Gillies

Over the past 10 years, we have seen the development of the related and growing problems of obesity and low levels of physical activity in Scotland’s children. As we all know, this is likely to lead to major health problems in the future.

Take Life On
The Scottish government has launched the Take Life On  initiative to try to address this. It was launched recently by Dr Andrew Murray MRCGP, the government’s physical activity champion, you can read the full press release for further details.

GPs have differing views on this; some believe this has little to do with general practice, others think that we can help families with changing behaviours through our relationship of trust with them. To keep him grounded, dr Murray is being advised by RCGP Scotland’s physical activity reference group in matters relating to what can be achieved by GPs and other primary care professionals in Scotland.

New cancer campaign
The Scottish government launched an ambitious new campaign last week that aims to improve cancer survival through encouraging people to approach their GP earlier with concerns and encouraging early referral where clinically indicated.

A series of television and radio adverts will be broadcast over the next six weeks, the start of a £30m campaign which aims to save more than 300 lives a year by the end of the next parliamentary term.

The plan will initially focus on breast, bowel and lung cancer. The plan will also tackle issues of fear and people’s reluctance to approach and discuss symptoms with their GP, problems with which we are all familiar. 

Imaging and other diagnostic departments are preparing for an increase in early referral and there is funding available to increase the capacity of screening programmes. It is unlikely that there will be a major increase in patients with symptoms needing referral or investigation but practices may wish to discuss the initiative.

RCGP Scotland celebrates 60th anniversary
Finally, RCGP Scotland will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2013, and this affords us a chance to both reflect and look forward.  I think it’s important to remember that while technological advance may have made huge changes to the way treatment is delivered, what remains unchanged is the role of the GP as the trusted first point of contact.

A person-centred approach by a GP with the right clinical knowledge and good communication skills will always be key to encouraging our patients to talk to us about their health concerns, responding appropriately, and to us being able to deliver messages relating to healthy living.

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