Community pharmacy teams can begin referring adults living with obesity, and other conditions, to the twelve-week online NHS weight management programme.

The programme aims to help patients to develop healthier eating habits, be more active and lose weight, with lots of structured support, NHS England said in an update published on its website today.

According to NHSE, GPs have already referred over 50,000 patients, with community pharmacies expected to make 'hundreds more referrals in the coming weeks'.

Along with general practice, pharmacy teams will be now encouraged to identify eligible patients during routine contact, NHSE said.

To be considered eligible for referral, a patient must be over the age of 18, have a body mass index of 30 over, have a diagnosis of debates (type 1 or type 2), hypertension or both.

If eligible, the pharmacy team can refer the patient to the programme by visiting the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme Pharmacy Referral Site.

As part of the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) for 2021/22 pharmacy teams must refer at least one eligible patient to the NHS weight management programme or a Local Authority funded tier 2 weight management service.

Robert Pettifer, a pharmacist in Warwickshire, welcomed the new programme’s launch in pharmacies.

‘Pharmacies play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of our communities, and it’s great that we can now refer people to this new weight loss programme’, he said.

Dr Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, commented: ‘The NHS’s radical action plan means it is now easier for people to take control of their health – adults with obesity can now walk into any high street community pharmacy to take the first step on a life-changing weight loss journey.’