Doctors are being paid to compile lists of obese patients and then do nothing with them, the chair of the National Obesity Forum has claimed.

Dr David Haslam said the current system for paying doctors to track obesity was not working and did nothing to cut down the number of overweight people.

GPs receive bonus payments under the quality and outcomes framework for work in several areas of disease, including diabetes, heart disease, asthma and obesity.

Yet Dr Haslam told the Tackling Obesity 2010 conference in central London: “With obesity in the QOF, I’m incentivised to identify fat people and make a list of them, and with the list do absolutely nothing, but when they come back a year later weigh them to make sure they are still fat enough that I continue to get paid.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We recognise the importance of encouraging and supporting GPs to not only identify overweight adults but also support them with an appropriate intervention and ongoing management.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, said: “Making lists of obese patients is something the government wanted GPs to do, despite us saying there wasn’t the evidence to prove it made a difference to levels of obesity.

“GPs’ main concern is their patients’ wellbeing and therefore screening obese patients for diabetes is done as a matter of routine: it doesn’t need to be part of an incentive scheme because it’s good medical practice.”