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GPs to prescribe walking and cycling in bid to ease burden on NHS

GPs around England are to prescribe patients activities such as walking or cycling in a bid to ease the burden on the NHS by improving mental and physical health.

The £12.7m trial, which was announced by the Department for Transport and will begin this year, is part of a wider movement of “social prescribing”, an approach already used in the NHS, in which patients are referred for non-medical activities.

Minister for health, Maria Caulfield, said the UK is leading the way in embedding social prescribing in the NHS and communities across the country.

“Getting active is hugely beneficial for both our mental and physical health, helping reduce stress and ward off other illness such as heart disease and obesity,” she said.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said he welcomed news of the extra investment, enabling the NHS to try new ways of supporting mental health, such as through social prescribing schemes.

But, he added, prescribing exercise is not a miracle cure for treating mental health problems.

“What we urgently need to see is proper investment into our country’s mental health services,” he said. “Only that will enable us to deliver support to the 1.6 million people currently sat on waiting lists, and the 8 million people who would benefit from mental health support right now but are deemed by the system not to be unwell enough to access it.”

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Source: The Guardian, 22 August 2022


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