The “social prescribing” of gardening, singing and art classes is a waste of NHS money, a study suggests.
Experts found that sending patients to community activity groups had “little to no impact” on improving health or reducing demand on GP services.
The research calls into question a major drive from the NHS and Department of Health to increase social prescribing as a solution to the shortage of doctors and medical staff.
In 2019 the NHS set a target of referring 900,000 patients for such activities via their GP surgeries within five years.
Projects receiving government funding include football to support mental health, art for dementia, community gardening and singing classes to help patients to recover from Covid.
However, the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, said there was “scant evidence” to support the mass rollout of so-called “social prescribing link workers”.
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Source: The Times, 18 October 2022