A report from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) suggests there should be an increase in social prescribing to counter rising health problems.
Social prescribing involves the referral of patients to non-medical activities, ranging from health and fitness programs to movie clubs and meditation.
“At the frontline of healthcare, GPs are best placed to employ social prescribing to help improve their patients’ health and wellbeing,” says RACGP President, Dr Harry Nespolon.
“We’ve seen this approach used successfully internationally, such as in the United Kingdom and promising trials in Canada and Singapore – it could help shift the balance to focus, to prevention and early intervention for patients.”
Consumers show interest
Surveys commissioned for the initiative indicate that while many patients in Australia would welcome such approaches, they are often not available.
Of the 200 plus consumers surveyed, 88% agreed or strongly agreed that community programs and services could help their health and wellbeing.
However, 57% said their GP never discussed such services to improve their health.
Dr Nespolon says, “Social prescribing offers a huge opportunity to improve patient health and wellbeing and cut the costs of chronic diseases, but it won’t happen unless everyone can access it.”