Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today said doctors and nurses must have the tools they need to keep us healthy as he set out Lib Dem plans for social prescribing schemes that could see people struggling with physical or mental ill health prescribed gym sessions or cultural activities on the NHS.
Social prescribing has been successful in other countries and there have been pilot projects in Dundee and elsewhere in Scotland. Speaking from the campaign trail in Fife, Mr Rennie called for this work to be extended into every health board area in the country.
These schemes allow doctors to refer patients to a range of services that would help tackle health conditions, ranging from insulation for those suffering ill health due to fuel poverty to free activities for those suffering from obesity.
Mr Rennie set out the Liberal Democrat plan to help people get active as he tackled the climbing wall at the National Scout Activity Centre in Fife.
Commenting, Mr Rennie said:
“Helping people get active can make a huge difference to their physical and mental well-being. It is right that we give doctors the tools they need to help keep Scots healthy.
“Social prescribing not only allows doctors to prescribe things like gym memberships and other activities that get people moving. It can also see be used to prescribe heat insulation in the homes of people whose health is at risk as a result of fuel poverty, or cultural community activities for people struggling with loneliness or mental ill health.
"This is a new approach to care that reflects the fact that people become unwell for many different reasons. Social prescribing will obviously not replace medication or other treatments but it helps ensure that patients are getting the sort of care that works best for them.
“If we want Scotland’s NHS to be the best we need to give doctors and nurses the freedom to use a whole range of treatments and therapies to keep patients healthy. That is what Liberal Democrat plans to roll out social prescribing across Scotland would deliver.”