26 December 2017

Patients' Underlying Problems Not Always Medical, Says RCGP

Commenting on a drive by NHS England to implement more social prescribing, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Social prescribing is something good GPs have always done – it’s just the actual descriptive term didn’t exist before.

“Across the UK, GPs and our teams will see over 1m patients today – and sometimes, what people need isn’t traditional medical care. They might benefit more, for example, from an exercise class, or in the case of lonely patients perhaps a community group, than any medication – and GPs will readily recommend them, if these options are appropriate and available.

“Some GP practices are already seeing really positive outcomes with social prescribing, both in terms of prescribing less medication, fewer follow-up consultations, and engaging patients more with their own health. Some successful schemes include walking groups, ‘knit and natter’ groups and linking patients with local voluntary organisations, which can really help to give people a sense of purpose.

“In the long run, social prescribing initiatives are helpful in freeing up GPs’ time so they can spend time with those patients with the most complex health needs, and ease pressures on general practice and the wider NHS. But they are not a silver bullet and investing in social prescribing must not be an alternative to investing in our general practice service – we need both.

“Ultimately, we need NHS England’s GP Forward View, pledging £2.4bn extra a year and 5,000 more full-time equivalent GPs by 2020, to be delivered urgently and in full, and for equivalent promises to be made and delivered in each of the devolved nations. This is the only way we will secure a GP workforce fit for the future and able to deliver the care our patients need and deserve.” 

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.