Labour will ensure that every GP is able to refer patients to an exercise on referral scheme, to ensure physical activity becomes the first option for treatment.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said that he wanted to ‘hardwire’ social prescriptions into the NHS, with GPs ‘properly empowered’ to ensure that patients exercise more.
He made the announcement at the UKactive National Summit in London today, and repeated his pledge that if Labour are elected they will set a target of 50% of all adults taking the recommended amount of exercise by 2025.
He added that he wanted to regulate the levels of fat, salt and sugar in children’s food, and that he would make boosting physical activity the ‘priority for investment’.
Mr Burnham announced that a Labour government would ensure ‘we have exercise on prescription available in every GP practice in the country’.
He said: ‘This is hardwiring exercise on prescription as the very first port of call when patients go to see their GP.’
He added that patients were often taking multiple medicines – some more than 10 – because the pendulum of care had swung too far in favour of drugs.
Mr Burnham concluded: ‘GPs will see the power of what we are doing. Where we use exercise on referral it works and the evidence backs it up, so why are we not doing this every time?’