BDA calls on NHS England to recognise contribution of dietitians

The BDA has called on NHS England to recognise the important contribution of dietitians in the recently announced plans to expand the primary care workforce in England.

The NHS’s proposals will see an additional 20,000 posts created as part of a wider “local primary care network”, including physios and pharmacists, but no mention is made of the vital role dietitians can play in managing and preventing conditions such as diabetes, obesity, IBS and malnutrition.

BDA chair Caroline Bovey said: “Yesterday’s widely publicised announcement highlighting the recruitment of 20,000 new staff to support primary care practices, whilst good news, fails to recognise the value of the dietetic workforce. Dietitians in primary care settings can also be the first point of contact for many conditions and for effective control for many living with diet related long term conditions.

“Without effective attention to dietetic interventions supporting a well-nourished population other medical or therapy interventions are known to be less effective and potentially therefore costlier, something we cannot afford in these times of financial pressures in the NHS. Primary care patients deserve access to the most appropriate healthcare practitioners for their condition that it is possible to provide. Dietitians are key to the provision of effective and cost-efficient services.

“The BDA believes that dietitians can make a huge impact in primary care in a wide range of ways, including reducing demand on GP time, bolstering prevention provision, improving the management of medicines and specialist nutrition products and reducing the need for expensive referrals to secondary care.”

The BDA has commissioned Plymouth University to undertake research to provide robust evidence of the effectiveness of dietitians in a primary care setting. This work is being supported by Health Education England, and it is hoped it will be published at the end of 2019.

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