DOI: 10.1111/jhn.13217 ISSN: 0952-3871

A case study of the impact of a dietitian in the multi‐disciplinary team within primary care: a service evaluation

Mary Hickson, Jenny Child, Avril Collinson
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)



Expanding the primary care workforce to alleviate general practitioner (GP) workload, improve access and improve quality of care is a current UK strategy. Evidence suggests dietitians can improve patient outcomes and make cost savings. The present study aimed to evaluate a dietitian working as an expert generalist and first contact practitioner (FCP) in a general practice multi‐disciplinary team (MDT) to provide appropriate care to patients and reduce GP workload.


A dietitian was employed for 6 months at 0.6 full‐time equivalents in a group of general practices in Devon, UK. Data were collected on the referral source, patient satisfaction, health outcomes and changes in prescribing data for all patients seen by the dietitian. Focus groups and interviews provided data to understand the experience of introducing a dietitian into the team.


This model of service delivery showed the dietitian acting as an expert generalist, a FCP and able to educate the MDT. A range of professionals within the MDT referred patients with a wide range of diagnoses (both paediatric and adults) and the dietitian acted as a FCP for 29% of patients. Saving were made for the optimisation of medicine management.


The dietitian can improve patient‐centred care for several patient groups; enhance learning for staff around nutrition and dietary issues; and contribute to more efficient working and cost savings around prescription of nutritional products. This was an evaluation of one service and further research is needed to understand the value dietitians can contribute and the factors supporting effective and efficient working in this context.

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