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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 15:17 GMT
NHS to get sports injury doctors
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About 700,000 people are treated in hospital each year for sports injuries
A new breed of NHS doctors are being created to specialise in treating and preventing sports injuries.

The move is being made as part of the drive to help improve the nation's health following the Public Health White Paper in November.

The doctors will work in hospitals, schools and community groups as well as treating professional sports stars.

About 700,000 people a year are seen in hospital accident and emergency departments for sports injuries.

The most common complaints include ligament damage, metatarsal damage, hamstring strains, ankle sprains and back and Achilles heel injuries.

These NHS doctors will not only treat sports injuries, but also look to improve the general health of the nation
Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson

Doctors specialising in Sports and Exercise Medicine could be available on the NHS as soon as next year.

They will also be trained to advise disabled people on how they can increase the amount of exercise they do.

In the past, health professionals wanting to specialise in sports medicine have had to move abroad to train.

Health Secretary John Reid said he hoped the move would increase levels of physical activity and help prevent up to 6,000 premature deaths.

Sickness

"We are committed to making sure that the public is not only fit, active and healthy, but has access to the right healthcare provision to support their lifestyle.

"We want to make the NHS not just a sickness service but a keep well service for patients and the public.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson added: "These NHS doctors will not only treat sports injuries, but also look to improve the general health of the nation - setting exercise regimes and tackling the growing problem of obesity in children."

Royal College of GPs vice-chair Dr Nigel Sparrow said the move could help relieve some of the pressure on family doctors.

"The promotion of exercise and a healthy life style are part of many consultations in primary care. Sports related injuries are a common reason for people seeing a GP.

"The establishment of a sports and exercise medicine speciality will potentially enhance the skills and knowledge of GPs but it is important that this does not fragment primary care.

"Consultations for whatever reason are an opportunity for health promotion advice."




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