NHS staff could prescribe music playlists, as well as medication, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said.
Speaking at the King’s Fund, Mr Hancock said: ‘I must pay tribute to the pioneering work of the charity Playlist for Life. Their work creating personal playlists for people with dementia led to a 60% reduction in the need for psychotropic medication at one care home. This is the kind of cheap, easy-to-use social prescription that I’m fully behind. Because dementia is one of the major health challenges we face for the future. The number of people with dementia is set to rise from 850,000 today to more than a million in less than a decade. Personal playlists could offer a simple solution to this growing problem.
The government has recently emphasised social prescribing as a way to improve care as well as save money. Under the plans patients with mental health conditions could be given dancing and music classes.
The speech was welcomed by healthcare professionals, with Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal Society of General Practitioners, saying: ‘Not everyone will benefit from traditional medical care, and we know that encouraging patients to take up new hobbies or skills instead of more conventional approaches can have a hugely positive impact on their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Social prescribing is not a new phenomenon – it just hasn't had a name until recently – but benefits can include less medication being prescribed, fewer follow-up consultations, and more patients becoming actively involved in their own health.’