|Primary Health care is not just dishing out pills|
DHSC Secretary Matt Hancock has set out his ambition for every patient in the country to have access to social prescribing schemes on the NHS as readily as they do medical care.
Social prescribing involves helping patients to improve their health, wellbeing & social welfare by connecting them to community services. This can include activities such as art and singing classes.
The National Academy for Social Prescribing will work to:
The indepedent academy will receive £5m of government funding and will be led by Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the outgoing Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners. It has been developed in partnership across government, with Sport England, Arts Council England and a range of voluntary sector partners. Alongside the benefits for patients, the National Academy for Social Prescribing could reduce the burden on the NHS.
Only 60% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) use social prescribing for patients with anxiety, mental health problems and dementia. In some parts of the country, patients with long-term conditions who have had access to social prescribing link workers have said they are less isolated, attended 47% fewer hospital appointments and made 38% fewer visits to A&E.
The NHS Long Term Plan includes plans to recruit over 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers by 2020 to 2021, with the aim of 900,000 people being referred to social prescribing schemes by then. The government’s Loneliness Strategy committed to every eligible patient in the country having access to a social prescribing connector scheme by 2023.