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Health leaders have revealed plans to make social prescribing more mainstream with the creation of a new body led by a former chair of the Royal College of GPs.

A National Academy for Social Prescribing has been announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock who wants to see every patient in the UK having access to social prescribing schemes.

He wants the academy to build on the NHS Long-Term Plan to get more than 2.5 million people benefitting from personalised care within the next five years.

The academy will receive £5 million in funding and will be led by Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard.

Its main aims will be to:

  • standardise the quality and range of social prescribing available to patients nationwide
  • increase awareness of the benefits of social prescribing by building and promoting the evidence base
  • developing and sharing best practice
  • bringing together health, housing, local government, arts, culture and sporting organisations to maximise the role of social prescribing

`I’m looking forward to starting work with colleagues from so many sectors to bring social prescribing into the mainstream.... and to establish a great evidence base and raise the profile of this fantastic initiative.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard

Prof Stokes-Lampard said, `Social prescribing has always been so close to my heart as a practising GP.

`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.’

A Department of Health communique announcing the academy revealed that `only 60 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups use social prescribing for patients with anxiety, mental health problems and dementia’.

It went on to outline the impact on patients with long-term conditions having access to social prescribing link workers, with people reporting feeling less isolated, attending 47 fewer hospital appointments and making 39 per cent fewer visits to A&E.