Support your surgery to engage in social prescribing

In today’s blog, Elemental’s Relationship Manager, Victoria Owens shares her views on how to support surgeries to engage in social prescribing and discusses how Elemental’s digital platform can enhance best practice and enable the social prescribing concept to be an integral part of healthcare strategies. 

A recent campaign launched by the British Medical Association is using the slogan “Support Your Surgery”, designed to turn public opinion, following patient claims that they cannot get face-to-face appointments.

 A survey by the pollsters, Britain Thinks, found 44% of patients believe increasing the number of doctors is the single and most important step in improving patient care; the second at 14% was improving communication by way of increased availability of phone lines.

 More than 25% of surgeries were suffering high GP turnover prior to Covid according to a study carried out by the University of Manchester. The rates of early retirement are increasing as are intentions to reduce working hours or leave general practice. This can only impact patient care in a negative way.

Evidence tells us that team-based care where a range of professionals work together to provide proactive person-centered care can support improved access, efficiency, and improved continuity of care resulting in a coordinated approach if implemented effectively.

Social Prescribing Link Workers enable health and social care professionals to refer patients for a range of non-medical services to support their health and wellbeing.

 It is critical, therefore, that Link Workers should have a seat at any table involving discussion around patient care. 

There are countless positive stories around social prescribing. However, a recent study showed over 50% of the outcomes that can be delivered are not routinely measured in evaluation frameworks. It, therefore, remains essential, thus, to provide evidence to support the case for Link Workers to play an active role in patient care.

The crusade for social prescribing continues to grow across the UK and as a concept is becoming more mainstream as its benefits are far-reaching and multi-faceted. In addition to improving the lives of individuals in receipt of such care, it can significantly alleviate the burden on the NHS and, in turn, GP practices. Its growth therefore can only have positive ramifications for the future of patient care across the country.

By way of example, the West Lancashire GP Federation, in partnership with West Lancashire CVS addresses social issues through a blended approach.

In Skelmersdale, West Lancashire, life expectancy is lower than in other parts and the difference is patterned by deprivation, lifestyles, and other social and economic influences. Their aim is to prevent individuals from developing long-term health conditions and ultimately increase life expectancy and quality of life.

Using the Elemental platform has enabled quick easy referrals, access to community providers, client’s journey, and outcomes. More importantly, it provides evidence of outcomes and data for evaluation purposes.

It is only by evaluating the true benefits of social prescribing that the uptake will flourish and cases such as those evidenced by the West Lancashire GP Federation will help to champion the cause.

As our way of thinking as a society evolves and we become more aware of the benefits of auxiliary therapies and coordinated efforts to tackle society’s issues, social prescribing will become a central feature in patient care and support.

Elemental’s digital social prescribing platform is perfectly placed to enable the social prescribing concept to be an integral part of any healthcare trust’s strategy and provide vital support to GP surgeries up and down the land.

If you would like to find out more about Elemental and how we can help enhance your social prescribing programme, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch.