Doctors to give out lifestyle prescriptions
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GPs across Weston-super-Mare are being encouraged to reduce reliance on medications and consider prescribing lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle prescriptions are being rolled out across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG to encourage GPs to tackle the root causes of conditions, rather than relying on medication.
The CCG's pilot study has focused on mental health and gut wellbeing, but lifestyle prescriptions for other conditions could follow if the programme proves successful.
Dr Shaba Nabi, the CCG's clinical lead for prescribing, said: "The idea for lifestyle prescriptions came from a desire to reduce prescribing of medications for conditions and to reduce reliance on medications.
"One of the biggest problems with medication is that it's a bit like putting a sticky plaster on a problem and not getting to the root cause.
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"We decided to focus on two areas where we thought we'd get the greatest gain and where people could do things for themselves and also get support from other areas."
The CCG has produced a leaflet on mental health and gut health, with a list of suggestions for people to try before reaching for the medicine bottles.
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With problems such as stress, anxiety and low mood, the leaflets include advice on sleep, nutrition, exercise, relaxation and social interaction which can help to alleviate or reduce issues before seeking extra help.
For gut health, suggestions include reducing caffeine and alcohol, cooking from scratch and keeping a diary to highlight any triggers.
Every practice has access to the leaflets which can be printed out or texted to patients.
If the pilot study is successful, Dr Nabi has plans to introduce more lifestyle prescriptions for conditions such as type two diabetes and the menopause.
She said: "My passion is about getting to the root cause of an illness.
"This is definitely not a substitute for a consultation and there's a whole dialogue which needs to happen as well.
"This is just a step in the management plan. I think it's time to be a bit more holistic."
The CCG will begin evaluating the pilot study next year to discover how effective it has been in helping patients and reducing medication.