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All NHS patients to be given opportunity to access sport and leisure activities

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The National Academy for Social Prescribing will act as a catalyst to bring together the excellent work already being done across the NHS and beyond
– Helen Stokes-Lampard

The government has set out plans for every patient in the country to have access to sport and leisure activities through social prescribing on the NHS.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has launched a new National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP), tasked with mapping out detailed plans on how to best steer patients towards activities most beneficial to their conditions.

NASP will work to standardise the quality and range of social prescribing available to patients across the country and increase awareness of the benefits of social prescribing by building and promoting the evidence base.

It will also develop and share best practice, as well as looking at new models and sources for funding and focus on developing training and accreditation across sectors.

There will also be increased efforts to bring together all partners from health, housing and local government with arts, culture and sporting organisations to maximise the role of social prescribing.

NASP has been given £5m of government funding and will be led by Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the outgoing Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

It has been developed in partnership across government, with Sport England, Arts Council England and a range of voluntary sector partners.

"This academy is about all of us in health, arts, culture, sport, communities coming together around one simple principle: that prevention is better than cure," said health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

"Social prescribing is a huge part of this. There are thousands of people up and down the country right now who are already benefiting from activities like reading circles, choir groups and walking football.

"The National Academy for Social Prescribing will act as a catalyst to bring together the excellent work already being done across the NHS and beyond, building on our NHS Long Term Plan’s ambition to get over 2.5 million more people benefitting from personalised care within the next five years."

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, NASP's newly appointed chair, added: "I’m thrilled to have been appointed as chair of this new academy.

"Social prescribing has always been so close to my heart as a practising GP. It’s what good GPs have always done in terms of getting the best help and support for our patients beyond the medicines we also provide them with.

"I’m looking forward to starting work with colleagues from so many sectors to bring social prescribing into the mainstream, to train and educate social prescribers of the future and to establish a great evidence base and raise the profile of this fantastic initiative."

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The government has set out plans for every patient in the country to have access to sport and leisure activities through social prescribing on the NHS.
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