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Consultation on social prescribing to 'uncover physical activity sector’s full potential'

By Tom Walker    13 Jul 2021
The consultation is open to organisations that deliver social prescribing and other similar health programmes / Shutterstock/Africa Studio
ukactive has launched a consultation on social prescribing and other similar health programmes
The consultation will look to "uncover the physical activity sector's full potential"
The consultation is open to organisations that deliver social prescribing and other such health programmes
It will also explore the sector’s existing links – formal or otherwise – with the NHS and healthcare

A consultation on social prescribing and other similar health programmes will look to "uncover the physical activity sector's full potential" and define its role in the wider healthcare system, supporting the NHS.

Led by industry body, ukactive, the process is being launched today (13 July) and will gauge the scale and impact of healthcare links through social prescribing within the physical activity sector.

The consultation is open to organisations that deliver social prescribing and other such health programmes, and will help increase sector support for health provision at a time when the NHS and social care systems are coming under increasing pressure.

Titled "Leading the Change", the initiative aims to accelerate social prescribing within the sector across England, and forms part of ukactive’s wider engagement with NHS England and other health stakeholders, including the National Academy of Social Prescribing.

Although the research will focus on social prescribing, it will also explore the sector’s existing links – formal or otherwise – with the NHS and healthcare, capturing pathways such as rehabilitation, prehabilitation, falls prevention, dance, and other social and physical activity interventions.

There is a growing body of evidence that social prescribing – which enables health professionals to refer people to a range of non-clinical services – can lead to improvements in quality of life and mental and general wellbeing, as well as reduce levels of depression and anxiety.

The findings of the consultation will be published in a ukactive report in October 2021.

The report will outline recommendations to members, partners and policymakers for growing the sector’s role in the health system and improving existing social prescribing services. It will also explore the sector’s understanding of social prescribing and reveal best practice to inform a series of social prescribing ‘test and learn’ sites across the country.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “Our sector is the engine room of physical activity in the UK, and social prescribing is a powerful tool for our sector to maximise the impact of its services within the UK’s health and social case systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country’s health and the NHS hard, it’s time to step up the measures to prevent future ill health.

“We know there are some fantastic examples of social prescribing programmes in our sector and this consultation offers the opportunity for us to accelerate the expansion of this concept across the breadth of our sector so we can play our fullest role in supporting the NHS.

“As a socially driven industry, we want to reach the people who do not yet see us as an essential service so they can live healthier, happier lives.”

James Sanderson, CEO of the National Academy for Social Prescribing, said: “The National Academy of Social Prescribing welcomes this sector insight as the fitness and leisure industry can play a major role supporting social prescribing by giving people choice and control over how they become active, socially and physically.”

ukactive  social prescribing 
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