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Cornbrook Medical Practice, in downtown Hulme, is considered the first general practice in the country to send patients home to grow their own vegetables

NHS strive for & # 39; prescribe & # 39; of gardening and cooking courses for patients is based on little evidence, experts argue

  • Secretary of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock is enthusiastic about & # 39; social prescription & # 39;
  • The NHS announced earlier this year that it is hiring hundreds of "social prescribers."
  • It means that patients are referred to every activity, from history lessons to chess clubs
  • But the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin has questioned the evidence behind it
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Experts have argued that the urge of the NHS to prescribe garden and cooking courses to patients is based on little evidence.

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Secretary of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock wants to shift the balance from pills to social activities to improve the health of millions.

The NHS announced earlier this year that it will hire hundreds of "social prescribers" to refer patients to art classes and ballroom dancing.

Social prescribing includes any activity or support service ranging from history lessons, chess clubs, debt counseling advice or volunteering.

But the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin – owned by the British Medical Journal – has questioned the evidence behind it.

Cornbrook Medical Practice, in downtown Hulme, is considered the first general practice in the country to send patients home to grow their own vegetables

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Cornbrook Medical Practice, in downtown Hulme, is considered the first general practice in the country to send patients home to grow their own vegetables

In his latest editorial, David Phizackerley, deputy editor, wrote: "There are reported benefits for some interventions."

He added that this includes a boost in self-esteem, self-confidence, sense of control and empowerment, as well as psychological well-being.

"In general, however, the evidence about the effectiveness of social prescribing and many of the prescribed interventions is very limited," he added.

"It has also been noted that much of the evidence is based on pilot project evaluations and did not allow assessment of success or cost effectiveness."

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According to estimates, half of the GP appointments consist of non-physical problems, such as relationship problems or drugs and alcohol addiction.

Working from general practice, social prescribers will help patients to & # 39; tease modern life & # 39; such as solitude, alcoholism and depression.

WHAT IS SOCIAL PRESCRIPTION?

The NHS announced in January that it would be up to 1,000 & # 39; social prescribers & # 39; would hire to refer patients to art classes and ballroom dancing.

Working from general practice, they will help patients to overcome such & # 39; teasing of modern life & # 39; such as solitude, alcoholism and depression.

Their recruitment is part of a commitment to social prescription by health secretary Matt Hancock and NHS England.

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Social prescribing includes any activity or support service ranging from history lessons, chess clubs, debt counseling advice or volunteering.

The costs will be borne by the community and volunteer groups offering classes, many of which receive grants from the NHS. There may also be a small reimbursement for patients to cover basic costs.

NHS England claims that the scheme will save money by reducing the number of GP appointments and reducing the amount of prescribed medication.

But whether the drive will curb demand for other primary and community health services is unknown, Phizackerley said.

And he warned that there is little or no data about the possible side effects.

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Mr. Phizackerley added that there is a risk that & # 39; social prescription & # 39; is expected to offer a cheap solution for many complex social problems & # 39 ;.

He also warned that the term social prescription helps to promote the idea that any problem can be solved with a prescription.

"The use of the words & # 39; prescribe & # 39 ;, & # 39; prescribe & # 39; and & # 39; refer & # 39; reinforces the medical model, & # 39; wrote Mr. Phizackerley in the main article.

He added that it also suggests that healthcare professionals and social prescribers are also & # 39; gatekeepers for a menu of interventions & # 39 ;.

And Mr. Phizackerley, who has been a deputy editor since 2009, said it might maintain & # 39; an expectation that every problem requires a prescription & # 39 ;.

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It is after it was revealed Monday that a general practice in Manchester treats anxiety, depression and loneliness by encouraging people to go gardening.

Cornbrook Medical Practice in Hulme is believed to be the first general practice in the country to send patients home to grow their own vegetables or with pots of herbs.

A handful of social prescribers already work in health trusts and earn up to £ 25,000 a year. They do not need medical qualifications, but must have experience with a charity or a local municipality.

NHS England wants its army of advisers to implement 900,000 appointments per year by 2024.

The costs will be borne by the community and volunteer groups offering classes, many of which receive grants from the NHS. There may also be a small reimbursement for patients to cover basic costs.

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NHS England claims that the scheme will save money by reducing the number of GP appointments and reducing the amount of prescribed medication.

MailOnline has approached both the Ministry of Health and Social Care and NHS England for comments.

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