Norfolk’s book prescription scheme relaunched in Dereham

Chair of Norfolk County Council Hilary Cox and Alison Rainton at the 'Book Prescription Service' lau

Chair of Norfolk County Council Hilary Cox and Alison Rainton at the 'Book Prescription Service' launch at Dereham Library. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Books are likely to become a more common feature on prescription slips in Norfolk from now on after a scheme which helps people manage their own mental health was given a boost.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative helps people manage their own health and well-being through self-help books.

The national scheme, backed by The Reading Agency, builds on a successful local book prescription service which has been run jointly by Norfolk County Council's library and information service, the Society of Chief Librarians and healthcare specialists from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust for more than five years.

To mark the relaunch of the scheme, Hilary Cox, chairman of Norfolk County Council, this week unveiled 30 updated titles which have been added to the stock.

The launch event took place at Dereham's library.

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George Nobbs, leader of the county council, said: 'Books have the power to inform, educate and inspire but they can also provide help and advice to people who may be struggling to cope. The Book Prescription Service has worked really well in Norfolk, and hundreds of books have been prescribed through it already. 'With the roll-out of The Reading Agency's scheme it will now be able to support even more people to understand, manage and hopefully overcome a wider range of conditions.'

Under the scheme, GPs can prescribe a range of titles to help those with anxiety, stress, depression, chronic fatigue, phobias, eating disorders and sleep problems.

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People can also self-prescribe the books by taking the titles out on loan at their nearest library. There is also a leaflet highlighting a range of 'mood-boosting' books.

The enhanced scheme has been launched at all Norfolk's libraries.

Oliver Cruickshank, engagement lead for the south Norfolk clinical commissioning group, said: 'It's a fantastic scheme which enables GPs to encourage their patients to engage with reading materials that can really support their conditions.

'These are supportive services which sit alongside other elements of care patients receive from their GPs and it's part of a larger care package a patient receives.'

Alison Thomas, shadow cabinet member for public health, added: 'People with depression and anxiety are often isolated and if you can bring them into libraries and encourage them into a community facility, it can be a really good thing.'


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