Committee seeks views on social prescribing

Potential for social prescribing to reduce financial burden on NHS among issues MSPs want to address during sport & physical activity inquiry

Friday 12th July 2019

A new parliamentary inquiry is seeking views on social prescribing’s ability to tackle the health and wellbeing issues affecting Scots.

MSPs want to focus in particular on the prescribing of sport, exercise and other recreational activities.

Aiming to improve an individual’s health and wellbeing in a more holistic way, social prescribing is when GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals refer patients to a link worker to pursue non-medical means of improving wellbeing.

As part of its inquiry, Holyrood’s Health & Sport Committee wants to know who should decide whether a social prescription is the most appropriate intervention.

Stakeholders are also being asked for their views on the extent to which social prescribing leads to increased sustained participation in physical activity and sport.

Lewis Macdonald MSP, convener of the Health & Sport Committee, said:

Recent statistics have shown the serious physical and mental health issues Scotland’s population face, particularly those from more deprived backgrounds.

We are keen to understand how effective social prescribing can be, and the extent to which it can improve physical and mental wellbeing as well as moving the onus from GP’s to a wider multi-disciplinary team.”

Social prescribing covers a range of actions, but our inquiry is particularly focused upon the impact of sport and physical activity, including any barriers to participation and strategies for sustaining participation.

With Scotland’s NHS under great financial pressure, social prescribing also offers the potential to reduce the financial burden on the NHS and particularly on primary care.”

A range of ‘green partnerships’ and strategies have launched in recent years in Scotland, offering a range of services people can be signposted to by health professionals.

In Dundee earlier this year, a green health partnership was established that signposts individuals to initiatives in and around the city, promoting the positive impact of getting out and being active in natural environments.

Similarly, the Highland green partnership is encouraging people to make use of the great outdoors, describing Scotland’s natural environment as ‘an underused health resource’ that should be taken advantage of to get a ‘daily dose of physical activity and mental refreshment’.

The Health & Sport Committee’s call for evidence closes on 30th August.