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Local pilots to ‘incentivise’ GPs to prescribe cycling

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Local schemes will pilot incentivising GPs to prescribe cycling to patients, the Government has said.

It comes as the Government revealed a new obesity strategy last month, which revealed that new NICE recommendations for GPs to refer a quarter of all patients for weight management services could become a reality by next year.

In a new plan to start a cycling and walking ‘revolution’, backed by £2bn in funding, the Department for Transport said it wants to work through social prescribing in PCNs to incentivise the prescribing of cycling ‘wherever appropriate’

It will choose areas with ‘poor health and low physical activity rates’ to pilot the scheme, it added.

The plan said: ‘To cope in future, the NHS will have to not only increase supply (with new hospitals, more GP appointments, and so on) but also reduce demand, by helping people to live healthier lives. The service will need more concertedly to tackle the causes of ill-health, and not just the symptoms.

‘We will choose several pilot places with poor health and low physical activity rates to deliver personalised care by working through social prescribing in primary care networks to incentivise GPs to prescribe cycling wherever appropriate.’

The Department for Transport added that a ‘stock’ of bicycles will be available to lend to patients alongside ‘training, access to cycling groups and peer support’ – with the potential for patients to keep the bikes ‘if they used them enough’.

In today’s GP bulletin, NHS England reiterated that the scheme ‘will not be widely rolled out immediately’ but that the Government is currently working to develop the pilots.

It added that the money backing the scheme comes from funding previously announced for ‘active travel’ in May, as part of the Government’s focus on prevention as outlined in its 2019 green paper.

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