The Benefits of Social Prescribing

2nd July 2019

The Benefits of Social Prescribing

The past few years has seen a significant rise in the recognition, and benefits, of Social Prescribing.

Social Prescribing is a means of GPs, Nurses and Healthcare Professionals to refer people to non-clinical interventions. For example, prescribing social activities or sports clubs to help tackle social isolation or mental health issues. Social Prescribing acknowledges that there are several factors in a persons’ life that can contribute to poor health, and that alternatives to clinical options can be highly beneficial.


“Social prescribing is not a new idea – good GPs have always done it, it didn’t have a name.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair, Royal College of GPs


A large part of Social Prescribing is recognising that physical and mental health often goes hand in hand and some of what is available to individuals can improve both sides of one’s overall health.

Good examples of effective Social Prescribing activities or programmes are:

  • Volunteering
  • Arts Activities
  • Gardening
  • Cookery Classes
  • Sports Club/Classes
  • Social Events (i.e. Local Bingo)

It’s no secret that the Health Service is under strain in the recent years, so the number of GPs that are referring patients onto Social Prescribing for not only patient benefit has increased, but also for the benefit of the NHS. In 2018, over 23% over 391 GPs said they or their colleagues have referred using Social Prescribing regularly, compared to 19% in 2015 and 20% in 2017 [1]. Over 20% of people visit their GP for non-clinical reasons, a contributing factor for Social Prescribing being one of NHS England’s 10 High Impact Actions identified to help free up GPs time.


2019 has been identified as the year Social Prescribing came of age and with digital platforms, such as playing a vital role in signposting and supporting referrals to community services.