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Obesity Awareness Week: Physical Health Clinic supports service users to manage their weight and improve their mental health

17 Jan 24

Thomas Butcher, HPFT Physician Associate, has been running a physical health clinic for the past two years which helps service users with severe mental health illnesses manage some of the physical health problems they face including managing their weight. The clinic supports service users from the adult community team at Saffron Ground and Stevenage North Primary Care Network.

The clinic is set-up to provide weight management support focusing on lifestyle and diet. When service users are sent to the clinic with an appointment, an assessment is carried out and measurements like waist circumference, BMI and cholesterol levels are taken. After this initial assessment, physician associates then focus on creating a healthcare plan with the service user which may involve lifestyle advice, exercise and signposting to the appropriate NHS resources such as the Better Health website, Eat Well and weight loss apps.

The clinic is integrated with local GP surgeries which means improved communication between HPFT and GP’s and access to referrals for dieticians. It also means that GP’s can provide community resources such as gym memberships, access to Slimming World and more, to services users who need it.

Obesity is a significant challenge to overcome for service users who are living with severe mental health illness. HPFT Physician Associate, Thomas Butcher explains:

“The relationship between obesity and mental health is a complex one and have an inter-linked relationship with each other. This means that those with mental health illness can sometimes become obese due to their condition whilst some mental health medication can cause an increase in appetite and weight gain. HPFT service users are supported through a variety of ways to help manage their mental health and this clinic is one way in which we are supporting service users to do this.”


The clinic was set up following research undertaken by the Trust which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants . The research concluded that mental health Trusts should include the roles of physicians associate in their workforce and integrate them within community mental health disciplinary teams.  

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