How can I get to see a dietitian?
If you have never seen a dietitian and think that you need to, you can be referred via your GP, practice nurse or hospital consultant depending on the nature of your condition.
If you have seen a dietitian in the past, you can telephone directly to the dietetics department and ask if you would need a referral. Some conditions (for example diabetes and coeliac disease) do not need re-referral if you have already seen a dietitian.
What is a dietitian?
Dietitians specialise in translating scientific information about nutrition and food into practical dietary advice. As well as providing impartial advice about nutrition and health, dietitians also advise about food related problems and treat disease and ill health.
Many dietitians work in the NHS and may work in one or more specialist areas e.g. diabetes, children’s health, cancer, renal, public health. Others work with people in the community, sometimes visiting them in their own homes. They are a key part of the healthcare team and also have an important role training other Allied Health Professional’s (AHP’s) and the public about nutritional issues.
Dietitians have the only legally recognised graduate qualification in nutrition and dietetics that is registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC). This is a national regulatory body, which was created following the Health Professions Order 2001. Dietitians are one of 15 healthcare professions regulated by the HPC, which ensures rigorously maintained standards of training, professional skills, behaviour and client safety. The title dietitian/dietician can only be used if the individual is appropriately qualified and registered with the HPC. Verification of an individual’s claim to use the title of dietitian can be achieved by checking the Dietitians Register on the HPC website (www.hpc-uk.org).
How does a dietitian differ from a nutritionist?
The title ‘nutritionist’ is not protected. Some may have attended degree level courses in nutrition, and upon qualification, many register as nutritionists (RNutr) or as public health nutritionists (RPHNutr) with The Nutrition Society. However, there are many who will not have a recognised qualification. Nutritionists work in government, industry, sports, education, media and for charities, supporting the collection and communication of information about food and health. Some nutritionists provide general guidance to individuals about eating to support good health, however, as they are not regulated by a governing body, information given does not have to comply with scientifically based evidence.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) website gives information on dietetics, careers, learning opportunities and more.
Healthcare Professionals & GPs
If you are a healthcare professional looking to find out more about dietetics and nutrition services, we have a dedicated area in the Healthcare Professionals section of this website.