MSPs have recommended a change in medical thinking in Scotland by placing social prescriptions on the same level as medical prescriptions and stating that the funding of sport and physical activity more than pays for itself as a valuable investment in the health of the nation.
The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, made up of MSPS from all Scottish parties, recently completed an investigation into ‘Social Prescribing’, where GPs and other health professionals invest in physical and other activities instead of, or alongside, drugs to treat and prevent illnesses. The report took evidence from a wide range of experts, including Professor Richard Davison of the Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS), and it concluded:
“There are no doubts about the significant role physical activity and sport, and social prescribing, can contribute as part of preventative care for health and wellbeing … Social prescribing cannot be seen as a cost-free alternative. Sport and physical activity is an investment, not a cost.”
OSS board member and UWS professor, Davison made a significant contribution to the report through leading OSS submissions and contributing his expert analysis to a round-table session at Holyrood.
The report stated that “the growing inequality between active and non-active populations by area of deprivation, with its consequential health and wellbeing impacts, needs to be addressed,” and added, “we recommend social prescriptions are treated on an equal basis to medical prescriptions, when issued by health and social care professionals.”
“The report’s conclusions and recommendations strike a good balance between the available evidence and the recognised practical difficulty of creating a social prescribing service for sport and physical activity that could potentially have a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of those who need it most.
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