‘Scourges of modern life’ get new approach

NHS to recruit 1,000 workers to tackle loneliness and mental health issues

Health secretary Matt Hancock
Health secretary Matt Hancock

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.

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“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.