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Beware the Online GP!

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I was relieved to read today that the Care Quality Commission has competed a review of England’s remote GP services, and some pharmacy services.As I expected, the results were worrisome!

They reported that as at the end of February, 43% were not delivering ‘safe’ care or adhering to guidelines. That’s a shocking state of affairs. (Source: Daily Telegraph article 23/3/18)

The biggest problem appears to be prescriptions for long term medications being given and dispensed without proper scrutiny of the patient’s medical situation, and without involving the patient’s GP.

This is important as the GP is the only person with access to the patient’s complete medical history. It put me in mind of some of the practices I come across who are offering the new weight loss drugs that are available. Its most concerning that these drugs are being dispensed to patients who are outside of the eligibility criteria. In most cases this relates to patients who have BMI which are far too low. In a recent example I saw a leaflet offering medication to patients down to a BMI of 20 when the medication in question is only licensed for use in patients with a BMI above 30 (or 27 with a weight related health problem).

You can check your BMI here.

A patient with a BMI below 25 simply shouldn’t be taking weight loss drugs. They are a healthy weight! Some of the new medications are excellent and trials show that they deliver excellent weight loss. Nonetheless like all drugs they have side effects and patients, if they want to be confident they are eligible and its safe, should not take them unless they have seen a doctor first. The best weight loss loss programmes include a blood test (usually to check for type 2 diabetes) and a doctor consultation. 

One such programme is that offered by Slim Without Surgery. You can view their programme here. There are others too. You can use our weight loss programme checklist to check whether your programme provider is operating to the highest standards. Weight loss programmes can be excellent, just make sure you select a professionally managed one that places an emphasis on your health and well being.

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Rishi Singhal

Rishi is an expert bariatric surgeon based in the West Midlands and also Medical Director at Healthier Weight

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