GPs to refer patients to libraries under long-term conditions scheme

GPs will be able to refer patients with long-term conditions to public libraries from this month under a charity-led scheme to promote access to reliable health information.

Public library (Photo: iStock)

A reading list of 28 trusted books for patients with long-term conditions, stocked by all public libraries in England from this month, has been drawn up under the scheme, backed by the RCGP and organisations including Public Health England.

The books on prescription scheme for patients with long-term conditions is an extension of the existing Reading Well programme, launched by charity the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians.

Thousands of GPs already refer patients to libraries under the existing scheme, which has focused on areas including mental health and support for patients with dementia and their carers.

Books on prescription

More than 5,000 'prescribing partners' are taking part in the scheme, with a significant proportion understood to be GPs. A total of 43% of these prescribers said they used the library referral scheme at least once a month or more.

Most say they used the scheme to help patients access a better range of information and advice on their health conditions.

RCGP vice chair of external affairs Professor Martin Marshall said: 'There is an enormous need for quality assured health information and advice supporting people to understand and manage the physical and wellbeing impact of living with a long-term condition.

'The Reading Well scheme gives those living with long term conditions a trustworthy and approved source to find this information. It enables patients to feel better equipped and more confident in managing their illness, giving them confidence and helping them feel they have more control over their condition.'

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