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Health stores handed a role in Social Prescribing project

The NHS frontline is changing with GPs under increasing pressure to cope with daily demands on their time. People are living longer and as they get older are developing long-term health conditions. Their health is affected by a wide range of factors including employment, housing, debt, social isolation and culture.

These factors are not amenable to traditional health interventions. The NHS England Five Year Forward View calls for a radical upgrade in prevention and public health, and greater engagement with people and communities to harness the energy and potential they have.

In June, the Health Food Institute invited Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of the College of Medicine and personal physician to Prince Charles, to present the opportunities presented by “Social Prescribing”, a national project which he also heads.

The aim is to enable people to make use of existing community services, resources and facilities which can help them manage or overcome the social factors behind ill health. Social Prescribing can help to improve the health of local people, the quality of care and services, and productivity as part of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).

However, health food stores have been something of an afterthought in this forward-thinking scheme in which Link Workers are being recruited to co-ordinate the programme and improve the wellbeing of thousands of people.

Better Retailing Magazine has provided this report to help health store owners and managers to get involved. Retailers who get involved in the scheme are asked to report back with their opinions and experiences by emailing the Editor, [email protected].

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