They will signpost people to services such as community support groups to boost health and well-being. It is hoped by 2023-24, the social prescribing link workers will handle 900,000 patient appointments a year.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, inset, the chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Often the underlying reason a patient visits their GP is not medical, yet it can have a considerable impact on their health and well-being.
“Ensuring that GPs and our teams have good, easy access to people who can link patients with classes or groups in the community and other non-NHS services, that could potentially be of far more benefit than any medicine, is something the college has long called-for.”
NHS England said about half of GP appointments are not directly related to medical conditions, and activities such as history groups or art classes could improve some patients’ well-being more than actual medical treatments.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is prevention in action and will help to combat some of the scourges of modern life, from loneliness to mental health, or over-medicalisation.”
It is hoped they will be in primary care networks by April 2021.