Patients at the Northgate Medical Practice in Canterbury are being given extra support to make long term lifestyle changes in an effort to improve their health.
Local NHS Health Trainer Ellie McEwan from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust is now available at the surgery three days a week to dispense practical advice and support to people who want extra help to make lifestyle changes: including stopping smoking, losing weight, cutting down on alcohol or getting more active.
Ellie said: “Sometimes people can find it hard to lead a healthy lifestyle because things get in the way, for example poor housing, relationship problems or money worries. As a Health Trainer, I can support people to understand the barriers and then support them to make changes.”
The scheme is funded by a new programme called ‘Encompass’, which aims to bring community health services and GPs together to improve patient care and reduce hospital admissions.
Northgate GP Dr Peter Biggs, who is the Vice Chair and education lead for the Encompass programme said: “This scheme is all about encouraging people who can to take ownership of their health and wellbeing by making lifestyle changes.
“As a GP, people come to me and hope that I can make them better, but quite often they simply need support to make changes to help themselves in the longer term. Having Ellie based here in the surgery means that when I meet a patient who could benefit from lifestyle support, I can quickly make an appointment for them through our system. It’s working extremely well so far.”
KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Graham Gibbens said: “GPs can spend a lot of time dealing with non-health issues such as relationships, benefits and debt.
“These issues can easily affect someone’s ability to make lifestyle changes – such as having the time or money to find a gym and exercise. We are pleased to support the development of a service which has health trainers and specialist advisers integrated into the business of the GP practice; offering a more accessible, flexible and appropriate level of care.”
NHS Health Trainers offer up to six free sessions. Patients at other surgeries may also be eligible to see a Health Trainer. For more information visit www.kenthealthandwellbeing.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 1220.
Encompass is a multispecialty community provider (MCP) programme – one of 50 in the country – introduced by NHS England in its Five Year Forward View.
It is made up of 16 GP practices in Canterbury, Faversham and Whitstable who have agreed to work together to provide more services for patients in their local communities.
For more information on the Encompass programme visit www.encompass-mcp.co.uk