GP takes dose of his own medicine

Dr Robert Smyth (Broadway Medical Centre, Fleetwood) with Katie Wilson (physical activity referral officer-Y:active).
Dr Robert Smyth (Broadway Medical Centre, Fleetwood) with Katie Wilson (physical activity referral officer-Y:active).

FLEETWOOD GP Robert Smyth has been giving himself a taste of his own medicine.

Dr Smyth, of Broadway Medical Centre, in Fleetwood, was so impressed with the GP exercise referral programme he regularly prescribes for his patients, he decided to prescribe it for himself!

The doctor said, after years of prescribing “good old-fashioned exercise” as the intrinsic ingredient to combating health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and arthritis, he felt it was about time he signed up.

But he admits in recent years he has not followed his own advice.

So he signed himself up for the NHSfunded Y:Active exercise referral programme, delivered by the YMCA.

And the GP is already glad he took his own advice.

He said: “I consider myself to be a healthy person, but, like all of us, I probably don’t exercise as much as I should because of work and family commitments.

“However, as I am constantly telling my patients how important it is to be active, I decided in the New Year I should practise what I preach, so I’ve referred myself onto the programme I refer my patients onto – the Y:Active Exercise Referral Programme.”

The scheme, funded by NHS North Lancashire and NHS Blackpool, is operated by Fylde Coast YMCA and offered through all GP surgeries in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.

After his referral on to the programme, Dr Smyth received an appointment to see a member of the specially-trained Y:Active Team at Thornton YMCA.

He said: “I think people sometimes feel health and medical professionals are in some way immune to the services and programmes we refer them too, so it has been great for me to experience this programme at first hand.

“Katie, the referral officer, immediately put me at ease and took some general information about my health and what I hoped to gain from the programme.

“I was surprised at the range of exercise and activities available – ranging from traditional gym activity, exercise classes and swimming to dog walking.

“I opted for the gym and Katie set up a personalised programme for me.

“I was really impressed by her knowledge of how exercise relates to health and which exercises were likely to have greatest benefit.

“All of the time she considered my needs first and I was never asked to perform an exercise I was not comfortable with.

“It has turned out to be a very good move.”

Close to 1,500 patients have been referred on to the programme since April 2010, with many finding exercise has had a significant and real benefit to their health and quality of life.

The Y:Active Exercise Referral programme offers people with certain medical conditions the chance to get subsidised access to Fylde Coast YMCA facilities and various private facilities in Blackpool in order to help improve their general health.

For further details about the programme, ask your GP, call (01253) 882105 or visit the website