The social prescribing trial is part of the Go Cycle campaign by Kingston London Borough Council to encourage more cycling.
Under the public health scheme GPs and other clinicians including physiotherapists and mental health professionals will be able to refer patients with a variety of health conditions. Patients with diabetes, weight problems, mental health problems, high blood pressure and inactive lifestyles could all be referred by GPs to the scheme.
Patients will benefit from a free 12-week course with professional cycle coaches and qualified instructors with free use of bikes, group rides to scenic places, gym exercise and assessments.
Surrey and Sussex LMCs chief executive Dr Julius Parker the scheme was a ‘very positive’ move which was part of the wider local agenda to encourage better public health.
GP social prescribing
Some GPs have previously expressed concern about the potential for some social prescribing schemes to increase demand for GP appointments and inflate GP workload. But Dr Parker said he was ‘very relaxed’ about the Go Cycle programme. ‘I don't think anybody is going to come and see us and say "I’ve come for a referral". I don't think the issue of demand will be a problem. If it is one of the options in a discussion with somebody who needs more exercise anyway, then I think it is a positive process,' he said. ‘I'm happy to welcome it.’
Kingston London Borough Council sustainable transport officer Eric Chasseray said: ‘Many patients are either new to cycling or have not been on a bike for years and want to refresh their skills and renew their enjoyment of cycling.’
‘By utilising the expertise and resources from Kingston’s public health department and sustainable travel teams, patients can feel confident that they are receiving the proper care and training by qualified and competent staff in a safe environment.’
Kingston resident Doreen Sweeney who was referred to the scheme to help with weight loss said: ‘The course really helped to rebuild my confidence. I’m 62 and I hadn’t ridden a bike for about 40 years. I was worried at first about my balance but it really was like second nature.’
NHS England included social prescribing among the 10 high impact actions to help practices better manage workload. CCGs have been told to use their £3 per patient ring fenced investment in practice transformation set out in the GP Forward View on stimulating investment in the high impact actions.