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Morgan talks to 80 per cent of patients about exercise, including talking to parents about their kids


My patients cost the hospital £8,000 per 1,000 population, compared to £12,000–13,000 per 1,000 population for another local GP surgery of similar size and standing


to them about that and giving them a real life option – the choice between taking medication and using exercise to treat and prevent disease… I fi nd most of them want to take responsibility for their own health. Some will want the easier solution of a pill, but the vast majority are willing to give exercise a go.”


Integrated healthcare Morgan has been practising what he preaches for many years, based out of Wigan’s Pennygate Medical Centre.


“Back in the day, when practice-based commissioning was starting – which was probably about 10 years ago – I built a gym in our practice. I used two fairly sizable rooms in our new building, one into which I put cardiovascular equipment and another where I mirrored the walls to use as an aerobics studio; we employed a REPS Level 4 trainer to come in and deliver exercise classes for us. That meant I could refer people directly into our own gym. “The rationale was to try and make exercise inextricably linked with


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health – physically putting exercise facilities into the building to create a true health centre rather than a disease centre. I think too often the NHS concentrates on treating disease rather than promoting health. “And it’s still going strong: ours is


one of the few general practices in the country that has a cardiovascular gym and aerobics studio inside it. I walked past literally an hour ago and there were people using it. “We offer 12-week programmes, free


of charge, after which we encourage people to progress into local facilities – especially the Active Living in Wigan scheme – to continue their exercise. And we’ve seen great results, including among genuinely sedentary, obese people and right through the age ranges. “I remember one lady in her late 60s/


early 70s who had never exercised in her life, and she turned up for her fi rst exercise class in twin set and pearls. There are so many anecdotes like that. But people soon get used to it and the whole thing has ballooned: we have


walking groups now too, which the patients have taken over and organise and lead themselves. Those are excellent for their social aspect too, and for the fact that people don’t really feel like they’re exercising – they enjoy it. “The whole programme has really


enhanced the physical and mental health of our patient population.”


Weight of evidence And there’s data to prove it, including a 2012 audit of Morgan’s 12-week programme by students at Manchester University. So what were the results that most excited him? “It was probably the self-reported


change in mood: 92.5 per cent of participants said they’d experienced an improvement of mood. Also, 94 per cent of people reduced their blood pressure, independent of any medication. “Meanwhile 81 per cent had


decreased hospital admissions and GP consultations in the 12 months after the exercise programme compared to the previous 12 months. Not only that but


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