A NEW organisation is being set up to promote social prescribing in England and will be headed by outgoing RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard.
Backed by £5 million in government funding, the National Academy for Social Prescribing is intended to raise awareness as well as set quality standards and share best practice.
Social prescribing involves helping patients to improve their health and wellbeing by encouraging them to take part in activities such as art classes, yoga and walking groups.
The independent academy will connect representatives from health, housing and local government and them with arts, culture and sporting organisations to maximise the role of social prescribing. It will also focus on developing training and accreditation across sectors; seek out new models and sources for funding; and standardise the quality and range of social prescribing available to patients across the country.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said the academy could reduce the burden on the NHS, adding that it will “act as a catalyst to bring together the excellent work already being done across the NHS and beyond”.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said she was "thrilled" to be appointed as the academy’s chair.
She said: "Social prescribing has always been so close to my heart as a practising GP. It’s what good GPs have always done in terms of getting the best help and support for our patients beyond the medicines we also provide them with.
"I’m looking forward to starting work with colleagues from so many sectors to bring social prescribing into the mainstream, to train and educate social prescribers of the future and to establish a great evidence base and raise the profile of this fantastic initiative."