Sign up to the Active Practice Charter and join the national network of practices making positive changes in their surgeries to boost staff and patient wellbeing.

Sign up your practice or PCN

It's free to join and we have lots of simple and creative ideas to help you meet the criteria. This can be done as individual practice or as part of a primary care network (PCN). You just need to demonstrate that your practice/network has:

  • taken steps to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity in staff and patients, and
  • partnered with a local physical activity provider

Being an Active Practice can have a huge impact on the health of everyone connected to your practice.  Being active is proven to reduce the risk of premature death, reduce social isolation and improve immunity to flu and COVID-19, among other illnesses.

Physical inactivity is one of the major modifiable risk factors for preventable early death, but GPs and their teams haven’t always felt empowered to encourage their patients to move more. Because of the growing epidemic of chronic lifestyle-related disease, mental health disease and social isolation, it's time to act – and lots of GP teams are! Even modest changes to activity levels can play an important role in improving mental and physical wellbeing for all of us.

The Active Practice Charter is a fun, easy way to make some simple but impactful changes in your workplace that will demonstrate to your patients and staff that you mean it when you say that movement is the best medicine.

Despite the unprecedented challenges in primary care since its launch, the team have been wowed by the uptake of the Charter nationally, with hundreds of practices joining the network of Active Practices – inspiring us, and other practices, with their creativity and innovation to meet and exceed the criteria.

Achieving the RCGP Active Practice Charter is something to be celebrated, and shared widely with staff, patients, and the wider community. It's a great example of social prescribing ‘in action’, and an excellent case study of your practice excellence when CQC come knocking. What are you waiting for?

How to become an Active Practice

Becoming an Active Practice is simple - all you need to do is sign up and demonstrate you have taken steps in the practice to:

  • Reduce sedentary behaviour in staff;
  • Reduce sedentary behaviour in patient;
  • Increase physical activity in staff;
  • Increase physical activity in patients;
  • Partner with a local physical activity provider
Just like training for a race, the first steps are often the hardest – but practices which have embraced this approach  have found that the benefits in terms of staff morale, patient health and engagement more than make up for the initial effort.

This initiative does not have to be led by a GP partner, or even a doctor – you may have a member of your non-clinical practice team who would be best placed to lead the initiative. Medical students, GP trainees, your social prescriber, first contact physiotherapist, a receptionist or one of the PPG team – anyone can lead!

We have listened to feedback and made the process even easier with our new online form to submit applications.

The five key areas

Many practices will be meeting some or all the criteria already, and we hope the Active Practice Charter will encourage you to build on this, and celebrate and share your progress with your patients. When you’ve demonstrated that your practice meets the five criteria, we’ll send you a certificate you can display proudly, highlighting the five areas where you’ve made positive changes.

Here, we provide some suggestions on how you might meet the criteria.

1. Support a reduction in sedentary behaviour in staff

  • Switch off the patient call in system, so clinicians walk to the waiting room instead
  • Install adjustable standing desks
  • Introduce weekly standing or walking meetings
  • Organise a teaching session on sedentary behaviour
  • Ditch your instant messaging and where possible connect face-to-face to break up periods of prolonged sitting

2. Support a reduction in sedentary behaviour in patients

  • Create a standing space in the waiting room with information for patients explaining why
  • Signpost your stairs clearly, explaining its benefits over using the lift
  • Install a stationary bike and encourage patients to pedal whilst in the waiting room - some bikes even have in-built phone chargers!
  • Use the waiting room audio-visual screen to guide patients through seated exercises
  • Try out walking or standing consultations

3. Support an increase in physical activity in staff

  • Sign up to a cycle-to-work scheme and improve cycle parking facilities
  • Introduce a weekly yoga or Pilates session for staff
  • Seek a group deal at a local gym so staff can get reduced rates
  • Invest in a practice bike/helmet/lock for home visiting
  • Set up practice challenges e.g. local 10km run, weekend walks, swimming events, Tough Mudder, Wolf Run

4. Support an increase in physical activity in patients

  • Visibly advertise ways to get fit locally (posters, leaflets, TV ads)
  • Provide training for your social prescribers or other frontline non-clinical staff members in the principles of physical activity
  • Organise a free PCN training session on physical activity from the PHE clinical champions’ scheme – email
  • Provide secure bike parking for patients
  • Leave some simple activity equipment (light weights, grip strengtheners etc.) in a corner of the waiting room, with a display on the benefits nearby

5. Partner with a local physical activity provider, to support the practice in getting more people active

  • Join over 1700 GP practices and sign up with your local parkrun to be a parkrun practice
  • Set up a local health walk with the national walking for health scheme led by PPG members or other patients
  • Approach a local gym or other provider to offer a discounted rate for patients registered with your practice who have an existing long term condition
  • Talk to your PCN social prescriber about who’s out there locally – there may well be the perfect partner under your nose!
  • Contact your regional Active Partnership team – they are experts in local physical activity resources and assets, are aware of the Active Practice Charter and are there to help!

Many of these suggestions are free, or very low cost. If your chosen criteria include hardware (standing desks, for example) there will be some cost. It is worth asking for a discount, explaining to companies that their product will be used as part of a drive to get local people more active, and will be seen by thousands of patients. The same goes for local fitness trainers, who may offer a cheaper rate or do a few sessions pro bono for NHS staff.

PHE clinical champion training sessions are free, and there might be bursaries available from your CCG, CEPN etc. You could sign up to a local Timebank, where you might offer your waiting or meeting room for e.g. a weekly yoga class, in return for free sessions for staff or patients. Be creative, and think outside the box!

Sign up your practice