Social Prescribing Hour with Michelle Pilling, East Lancashire CCG



This week’s Social Prescribing Hour was hosted by Michelle Pilling, Deputy Chair Lay Member Quality and Patient Involvement, NHS East Lancashire CCG.

Michelle’s role is to give a voice to patients, carers and communities at the CCG and includes supporting the development of GP Primary Care Networks, ensuring that patients, carers and communities are key partners from the start.

The hour generated a wide-ranging discussion with social prescribing practitioners from all over the world joining the conversation, from Toronto to Manchester!

Check out some of the highlights from a jam-packed hour of social prescribing debate!


This question generated discussion around local networks working collaboratively, the value and impact of even relatively small investments into schemes such as luncheon clubs, and raised questions around:

-How to ensure the real essence of social prescribing is preserved and not medicalised

-The difficulties of getting funding for community investment alongside social prescribing vs social prescribing infrastructure

–The need for both financial and social capital


Michelle highlighted the importance of GPs taking a voluntary lead with their communities and the impact that this has across East Lancashire’s 54 practices which serve every demographic.

Ideas around how GPs can take a lead on social prescribing to become community champions included:

-Encouraging and recruiting champions in GP neighbourhoods and practices who have more reach – going beyond health to be part of the community

-Creating an army of social prescribing community champions ranging from barber shops to schools and neighbourhood associations – place-based means going where the people in the community go

-The role of the GP in championing the service, with the link worker then spending more time with the person to make the right connections

-Introducing social prescribing to people as a way of them potentially becoming involved as a volunteer

-Harnessing the power of the community pharmacy team who see the ‘well’ as well as the ‘not so well’, often staffed by people from the community as well as highly trained pharmacists


Michelle stressed the importance of connecting up the connectors to achieve maximum impact, which had lots of support, with other suggestions including:

-Making connections and linkages through networks and support across the system as well as tracking any duplication of effort

-Harnessing the power of social media – making use of simple Twitter tools such as hashtags and lists to spread social prescribing further

-Everyone can be a social prescriber – how do you let the wider community, employers, schools, sports associations and faith groups know what is going on in their areas?

-Creating new services or activities if there is gap or after existing provision has been supported by unresponsive

-Linking people and networks up and spreading knowledge and skills

-Hyndburn Leisure also shared an example of how they have been doing this in practice through establishing a Hyndburn network that brings together statutory and third sector physical activity and community development partners with the aim of inspiring local people to improve their health and wellbeing


There were lots of valuable insights and ideas around the added value of personalised care, including:

-Everyone working in health and social care asking patients ‘what matters the most’ as a way of empowering people

-Ensuring that this is always at the forefront of any patient conversation – sometimes people won’t know what matters to them but knowing about the services available to help them learn about what they enjoy is key

-Connectors, GP staff, volunteers and the wider community being able to pick up where a conversation might start and where they could benefit from a longer one

-Empowering people to make informed choices


A big thank you to everyone that joined in and contributed their ideas, thoughts and questions! Join us again on Social Prescribing Hour Wednesday 19th December, 8-9pm with our hosts Jack Packman and Emma Woodward from Social Enterprise Kent, discussing loneliness, isolation and the role of social prescribing.

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