News & Media

Medical centres fit for fitness?


Earlier this month, the Royal Society for Public Health published findings of a study into ways in which exercise professionals could better support public health in the UK.

The Society talked to a national sample of people who use gyms and leisure centres and to some of the 400,000 people who work in the exercise industry about how their role in improving our physical fitness could also be used to improve our wider health and wellbeing.

The idea which most caught the media’s attention was the not insignificant appetite for the idea of being able to see a GP on a drop-in basis in gyms and leisure facilities. Putting aside the broad and predictable spectrum of reactions, this isn’t a new proposal: bringing together primary care with leisure and fitness facilities has long been an interest for the NHS.

Take Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre, in Blackpool – where several GP practices share a beautiful building with the local authority’s leisure centre; a very deliberate marriage of services to manage and treat illness with those to promote and enhance good health. It’s an award-winning building but certainly it isn’t unique in bridging that gap: other centres, like Frome Medical Centre in Somerset, Eagle Bridge Medical Centre in Crewe and Elmcourt in London also work with gyms or physiotherapy fitness suites within their complex.


With the growing recognition of social prescribing in primary care and the role of a huge range of activities and support mechanisms to help us live more healthily, it’s a principle which buildings for healthcare must embrace.

We need to listen to the professionals on the frontline of primary care and activity in our communities about the practicalities of collocating their respective services. But the fundamental point comes back to the old ‘an apple a day’ logic. Making it as easy as possible for us to access support which both helps to prevent and tackles ill health, and allowing providers of that support to work together as closely as they can, is just good sense.

It’s a health partnership which could really go the distance.

Read how Frome Medical Centre has used its building to improve access to social prescribing activities.

Claire Rick is our Head of Public Affairs