New Books on Prescription scheme targets long-term health conditions

New Books on Prescription scheme targets long-term health conditions

A new strand of the 'Books on Prescription' initiative, which encourages people to use libraries to discover self-help books, has been launched by The Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL). The latest scheme focuses on supporting those living with long term conditions such as arthritis, bowel conditions, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The scheme provides a 28 title book list of health information, self-help and memoir which has been developed by the charity and expert partners to offer guidance and factual support to those living with illness and their carers. Health professionals such as GPs can recommend books to patients they are treating with long term conditions or people can self-refer using the recommended book lists. All the books are available in English public libraries.

The 'Reading Well for long term conditions' book list was created as part of SCL's Public Library Heath Offer, with funding from Arts Council England and Wellcome.

Professor Martin Marshall, vice chair of external affairs at the Royal College of GPs, said: “There is an enormous need for quality assured health information and advice supporting people to understand and manage the physical and wellbeing impact of living with a long term condition. The Reading Well scheme gives those living with long term conditions a trustworthy and approved source to find this information. It enables patients to feel better equipped and more confident in managing their illness, giving them confidence and helping them feel they have more control over their condition.”

The Reading Agency c.e.o. Sue Wilkinson said: “We have seen great success and had very positive feedback on our previous booklists for Reading Well Books on Prescription, so we are proud to launch the latest scheme in the programme, which provides a cost-effective and quality assured way for delivering community based help for those living with long term conditions.

“We recognise it’s incredibly tough to manage a long term condition. This booklist enables patients to find information and answers to their questions in their local community, in the safe, trusted space of their local library.”

Neil MacInnes, president of the SCL, said the libraries were "providing a new frontline community service in an area of enormous need." 

Reading Well Books on Prescription is available in 97% of English public library authorities. Previous schemes have reached over 635,000 people with targeted mental health support for both adults and young people, the organisers said.