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Dance lessons for the lonely – on the NHS

GPs in England are being given permission to prescribe patients “social” activities, such as dance classes, to tackle loneliness.

The strategy, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May, will also see postal delivery workers checking in on isolated people during their rounds.

The government says about 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in over a month.

And many GPs see between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness.

As part of the long-term plan, funding will be provided to connect NHS patients in England to a variety of activities, such as cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups, by 2023.

Announcing an extra £1.8m for community projects, such as creating new community cafes, art spaces or gardens, Mrs May said social prescriptions would reduce demand on the NHS and improve patients’ quality of life.

The government will also partner with the Royal Mail on a new scheme in Liverpool, New Malden and Whitby to give postal workers a front-line role in tackling loneliness.

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