GPs in England will be able to prescribe community activities for lonely patients as part of a new Government initiative, it has been announced.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that, by 2023, doctors would be able to direct patients to activities such as cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups.
The move is part of a cross-Government strategy to tackle loneliness which is linked to a range of health conditions such as heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Around 200,000 older people are reported to have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
Funding of £1.8 million has been pledged to help support the long-term plan by boosting the number of available community spaces, such as creating new community cafes, art spaces or gardens.
The strategy also includes partnerships with employers. High-profile businesses including Sainsbury’s, Transport for London, Co-op, British Red Cross, National Grid and the Civil Service have pledged to take further action to support their employees’ health and social wellbeing. T
he Government will also partner with the Royal Mail on a new scheme in Liverpool, New Malden and Whitby which will see postal workers check up on lonely people as part of their usual delivery rounds. Postal workers will be speaking with isolated people to help link them up with support from their families or communities if required.
Mrs May voiced her support for the late MP Jo Cox’s efforts to tackle the issue and has promised to implement the recommendations made by the Loneliness Commission which was set up in Ms Cox’s name.