Parliament inquiry seeks views on ‘social prescribing’ as way to improve health and wellbeing of the nation


A new Scottish Parliament inquiry is seeking views on social prescribing’s ability to tackle health and wellbeing issues in people across Scotland.

Social prescribing is when GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals refer patients to a link worker with the aim of improving an individual’s health and wellbeing in a holistic way. The inquiry’s focus will be on the prescribing of sport, exercise and other recreational types of activity.

A recent study by The King’s Fund reported that there is emerging evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes, including helping to alleviate depression and anxiety.

The Health and Sport Committee’s inquiry is seeking to find out:

• Who should decide whether a social prescription is the most
appropriate intervention, based on what criteria? (GP, other health
professional, direct referral from CLW, self-referral).
• To what extent does social prescribing increase sustained participation
in physical activity and sport for health and wellbeing?
• What are the barriers to effective social prescribing to sport and
physical activity and how are they being overcome?
• How should, social prescribing initiatives be monitored and evaluated?

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“Recent statistics have shown the serious physical and mental health issues Scotland’s population face, particularly those from more deprived backgrounds.

“We are keen to understand how effective social prescribing can be, and the extent to which it can improve physical and mental wellbeing as well as moving the onus from GP’s to a wider multi-disciplinary team.”

“Social prescribing covers a range of actions, but our inquiry is particularly focused upon the impact of sport and physical activity, including any barriers to participation and strategies for sustaining participation.

“With Scotland’s NHS under great financial pressure, social prescribing also offers the potential to reduce the financial burden on the NHS and particularly on primary care.”

To get in touch with the Committee go to:

The call for evidence closes on 30th August.


This is a Health and Sport Committee inquiry considering social prescribing with a focus on sport and physical activity.

The Committee decided to launch this inquiry following a high degree of interest from the public panels which are part of their landmark inquiry into the future of primary care.

Social prescribing has been advocated and used at least since the 1990s, and has become more widely used in Scotland with the establishment of Community Links Workers (CLWs). The Scottish Government has been committed to a GP Link Worker Programme since pilots in 2014.



Contact information

Media information

Committee information
For further information on this inquiry please contact David Cullum, Clerk to the Health and Sport Committee –


Public information

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  • Text 07786 209 888
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