Every patient with long-term health problems will be offered a 'social prescription' including arts, sport or leisure activities in a new Government initiative.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock is setting up a National Academy for Social Prescribing to support local professionals.
It will support the NHS's commitment to refer at least 900,000 people to such activities within five years with the help of 1,000 specialist staff who will be in place by 2020/21.
The academy, backed by £5m of Government funding and headed up by Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, outgoing chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, will share best practice, develop training and accreditation and improve the evidence base for social prescribing.
It has been developed in partnership with Sport England, Arts Council England and a range of voluntary sector partners.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'This academy is much more important than any one individual.
'It’s about all of us in health, arts, culture, sport, communities coming together around one simple principle: that prevention is better than cure.'