Changing the conversation about health

RCGP Chair says social prescribing could offer ‘vital lifeline’ to vulnerable, after survey finds GPs are prescribing nappies to patients in poverty

Doctors in the UK are increasingly being asked to ‘prescribe’ basic welfare items such as shampoo and nappies by patients living in poverty, a new survey by the Royal College of General Practitioners has found.

The Times reported that the survey of 1,855 British GPs found that around 75 per cent of doctors said they’d seen an increase in the number of patients struggling with issues associated with a poor diet and poverty.

In response to the survey, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said social prescribing could offer vulnerable patients a ‘vital lifeline’ and that doctors faced unique challenges because of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The survey of nearly 2,000 British GPs found that poverty impacting health had seen some patients asking for basics such as nappies and shampoo from their GPs (Image: Pixabay/ReadyElements)

Professor Hawthorne said: “Our GPs witness daily the devastating health effects that the rising cost of living and spiraling deprivation is having on patients in many communities across the UK. The link between poverty and worsening health has long been established, taking a physical, emotional, and psychological toll, which can result in the early development, or exacerbation of existing multiple chronic conditions.”

She added: “Our patients and our GPs deserve better. That’s why it is imperative that the government increases support for general practice and all our patients, with a particular focus on GP practices in deprived areas.”

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