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West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Services continues to expand social prescribing services

About The Project

As the lead social prescribing provider in the area, West Lancs CVS aims to bridge the gap between health and social care and the wider community. Social prescribing is an integral part of the local approach in helping to address health inequalities and support the preventative agenda. They have been working with Elemental since 2018, during which time the project has grown from covering one Primary Care Network to three as well as additional pathways to ensure people who need access to social prescribing support can get the help they need.


NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned Elemental to work in partnership with West Lancashire CVS Social Prescribing Service in 2018 to pilot Elemental’s core platform in the Skelmersdale Primary Care Network, with the aim of making it easier for GPs and healthcare professionals to make digital referrals into the service.

Skelmersdale was chosen as the area to pilot the project because it was experiencing higher levels of deprivation and there was a greater need for patients to have access to social prescribing support.

In April 2020 it was widened out to cover three further areas to enable West Lancs CVS to track and measure the uptake and health impact of social prescribing on patients.

During this time, additional hubs and care support pathways have developed in response to the needs of communities and the COVID pandemic, resulting in the further expansion of the project and use of the platform.

West Lancashire CVS Social Prescribing Service has also had additional hubs set up within the platform to support cancer patients, long Covid and the Council’s Winter Ready Programme, ensuring that as the project continues to grow organically, the outputs and outcomes generated can be demonstrated and shared across the health and care sector.


Nicci Sutton-Kelsall, Team Leader, West Lancashire Social Prescribing

“What is great about social prescribing is it is not off the shelf, and we tailor everything around what the individual needs. We look at their lifestyle, what they are interested in, what their needs are, where they live, whether they drive. We support them to improve their lives and feel happier and healthier day to day. While we are all grateful for medical advances we have today, sometimes medicine is not the answer to support those who need it which is where social prescribing can really play a vital role”.


The challenge

At the outset of the pilot, West Lancs CVS wanted to integrate digital social prescribing to enable primary care professionals to make referrals quickly and easily for their patients.

Key to their approach was aligning their outcomes with the NHS common outcomes framework to demonstrate the benefits of referring patients into social prescribing services and support, to understand the impact on both the patient and the community.

As a voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisation, they felt it was important to be able to link into other local services that improve health and wellbeing and utilise the full ecosystem of support available, highlighting the key role of the sector in delivering the social prescribing model of care.


The solution

To enable a seamless referral pathway across the pilot primary care network, Elemental’s Connector Plus, which integrates with all leading clinical systems, EMIS Web, Systm1 and Vision, ensured GPs and others using the system could easily make and manage referrals to social prescribing link workers, within just three clicks.

This success of this approach meant that it was rolled out across three further Primary Care Networks, with GPs keen to utilise Elemental’s technology further to streamline their reporting to NHS England.

west lancs


The outcome

Embedding Elemental’s digital platform as core to their approach means that West Lancs CVS has been able to grow its social prescribing service and standardise care pathways across the health and social care sector.

Furthermore, as the pathways into the social prescribing service have grown, they have a source of consistent data to help continue to build the case for social prescribing.

Between 2018 and March 2021 nearly 6,500 referrals were made through the platform, with nearly 70% demonstrating an improvement in their health and wellbeing.

The top three reasons for referral during this time were Covid-19, mental health issues (low mood/depression/anxiety) and social isolation. Wellbeing monitoring tools such as PAM, ONS, WEMWBS and SWEMWBS were used to monitor and measure improvements in health and wellbeing.


The future

West Lancs CVS is continuing to expand and develop their social prescribing service with Elemental’s platform, working with stakeholders and commissioners to take a targeted approach to developing referral pathways to ensure that the service continues to directly support local health and social care needs.


Patient story

One patient to benefit from being referred into the social prescribing service was a 30-year-old high school teacher who had been experiencing a challenge time in her job which had significantly affected her confidence. Having been signed off work after a breakdown, she had been diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication, which at the time of her assessment hadn’t had any positive impact on her mood.

Her wellbeing score was just 37, and she was also experiencing difficulties in her relationship.

During her assessment with her link worker, they discussed together the option of counselling to deal with the trauma of her experiences in the workplace, as well as some strategies for self-help.

This led to a discussion around trying some exercise classes, and as a result, she engaged with both a local counselling service, together with a badminton club, as well as exploring self-help apps to help with anxiety using mindfulness.

On her second assessment, the impact of these social prescriptions was already clear, reporting a much brighter mood, with an increase in her wellbeing score of 10 points which gave her an additional positive boost.

She has now returned to work and has seen significant improvements in her confidence levels and, by the completion of her assessments through the service, her wellbeing score had increase by 20 points.

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