A group of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) is encouraging its GPs to refer their patients to social and community activities to help tackle loneliness.

North West London collaboration of CCGs wants to promote the concept of ‘social prescribing’ in the region.

This, it believes, will help combat issues of detachment and isolation and follows on from the Government’s first ever ‘loneliness strategy’.

Aran Porter, self-care programme lead at the collaboration, said: “Many residents in north-west London seek support due to isolation, loneliness, or stress caused by work, money or housing problems.

“These are problems that clinical services alone cannot prevent or cure.

“If they are not dealt with, they can lead to long-term health and well-being problems.

“Developing social prescribing networks, including access through digital tools, is important to ensure people get the right help and support.”

And it goes alongside a success story from within the health service in the area.

Lindsay Topham, who works for the NHS in north-west London, spent eight months on crutches after she snapped her Achilles’ tendon.

This, she explained, led to her spending little time out of the house. She stopped meeting people or taking part in things she would have done previously.

She began feeling depressed and booked to see her GP, who suggested that she get involved with a community group.

While Lindsay was not entirely convinced that this was the answer, she duly joined a running club.

It proved beneficial to both her mental and physical health and she soon began to feel like her old self.

“My mood lifted, and my energy levels rose – some days I have more energy than the entire cast of Wicked,” she said.

“The point is sometimes your health doesn’t need to be managed by pills.

“Sometimes a social prescribing offer is exactly what someone needs to manage their health.

“We have to start accepting that social isolation and loneliness have a negative impact on health and there is help out there for you.”