DOCTORS should be able to prescribe Spotify patients with dementia rather than just spending drugs, our new Health Minister said.
Matt Hancock is a fan of "social prescribing," which means you could be sent to the gym or a yoga class if your family doctor thinks it will increase your well-being.
And it's not just about fitness clubs that could become a doctor's order.
Medics can pack you into bingo or tell you to join a knitting club if it could improve your health.
Mr. Hancock wants to create a National Academy of Art on Prescription and says that this kind of community intervention should be available to all patients by 2023.
After 17 years as a cardiologist at the NHS, I'm right behind him in this regard.
At the moment, modern medicine is the biggest threat to public health. Many doctors are too fast to hand out pills.
They often have unpleasant side effects, increase the risk of early death and affect the quality of life. I've seen thousands of people on statins who would rather not cut out junk food and take a 30-minute walk daily.
By accepting a pill, they are not treating the cause of their health problems. And they are unhappy.
With these lifestyle and community-based prescriptions, you can not only help with serious health problems, but also make you happier and improve your quality of life.
According to a report published earlier this year, music can significantly reduce the symptoms of dementia sufferers. So why do not Alzheimer's patients listen to their favorite playlists?
Exposure to art and culture could improve a variety of conditions, including mental health issues, aging and loneliness.
The visit to the library can reduce stress, a condition that is linked to a whole range of illnesses, from obesity to depression and diabetes.
Reading a book is more relaxed than watching TV or checking the phone. It is a quiet, tranquil environment that is great for mental health.
Volunteering to help others or give something back to your community is good for you.
Gardening is good for mental and physical health.
Writing or cooking classes can help to relax and fight loneliness.
Who would not prefer to pop a pill?
I have started meditating on many of my patients.
Those with chest pain or heart disease find it helpful with their symptoms. I have been in lifestyle medicine for many years.
It has been proven to reduce the risk of chronic illness, but you'll feel happier in the short term.
Maybe we should include a recipe for a break from social media. You may feel better when you actually meet a friend for a coffee instead of spending hours chatting with them over the Internet.
I tell my patients to switch off at bedtime for two to three hours. It helps to sleep and a good night's sleep can reduce the risk of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Although acupuncture does not cure cancer, it can relieve the symptoms, and an hour of yoga can distract you from it for a while.
Owning a pet can help your physical and mental health, so do not be surprised if your family doctor advocates buying a dog.
It may sound airy, but it really is not. There is a good science behind it.
The city of Frome, Somerset has experienced a dramatic decline in hospital admissions since it launched a collaborative effort to combat isolation.
Launched in 2013 by GP Helen Kingston, the Compassionate Frome project used "health connectors" to help patients plan their care and "community connectors" to find support.
Sometimes this meant dealing with debt or housing problems, sometimes joining choirs or exercise groups.
They found that it reduces loneliness, which can make illness worse.
Preliminary results from the region have shown that this can result in fewer hospital admissions and savings in the health budget.
Diabetes costs the NHS £ 10 billion a year. However, research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes can go into remission through a healthy diet and exercise.
If physicians dictate this, rather than pills, the NHS would save hundreds of millions of dollars currently spent on drugs to treat the disease. And the patients would not have the nasty side effects they get when they get pills.
Lifestyle medicine should be at the forefront of the NHS.
If we do that, I have no doubt that in a few years' time we can make a real difference to our NHS crisis.
From an economic point of view, we will make the population healthier, happier and more productive.
It's good to know that Matt Hancock is there.
But there is a reservation.
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Our environment and social circumstances must also help people to live healthier lives.
Right now we have a gap where doctors can make you a social prescription, that is, you go to the gym or a slimming club, but then go straight from the hospital corridor to a machine with chocolate bars and sodas.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has promised to clarify this, but the government must give it priority so that patients can swim with the current and not against the tide.
If not, these wonderful changes, which Mr Hancock advocates, will have only a limited effect.
- Dr. Malhotra is NHS cardiologist and bestselling author of the Pioppi Diet.