Why social prescribing plays a vital role in the future of the NHS
Recent announcements from the Secretary of State for Health demonstrate that social prescribing is valued now more than ever, particularly as we face more and more health challenges as an ageing nation and put the NHS under increasing pressure.
In a society that has significant and growing healthcare needs, with detrimental issues such as mental health, loneliness, isolation, obesity and other factors on the increase, growing healthcare requirements are putting a huge strain on NHS resource and ultimately budget.
Supporting a sustainable NHS
Here’s where social prescribing comes in and plays vital part in supporting a sustainable NHS future, reducing pressure on the primary care sector and enabling it to deploy its resources where they are needed most.
Working with those most at risk to take control of their own healthcare choices and engage in non-clinical forms of support, can make, and is already making an impact.
Evidence shows that social prescribing can reduce GP appointments by up to a fifth, emphasising the importance of tackling the cause of the illness, not just the symptoms.
Using digital to revolutionise healthcare
In order to maximise the impact of existing social prescribing programmes, healthcare organisations must consider the benefits of digital transformation and the ability to integrate technology with multiple health and social care provider referrals.
By using technology to support social prescribing initiatives, health and social care organisations can join up all their sources of support , enabling health and social care professionals to easily refer individuals to activities and monitor the impact on a person’s health and wellbeing.
It’s claimed that The NHS, is on the brink of a “healthcare revolution” to transform millions of lives through technology, and so it is important that social prescribing is recognised alongside these significant technological advances which aim to proactively prevent illness rather than reactively treat them when they occur.
GPs to lead the way
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care Foundation Trust (T&G ICFT) are social prescribing community wellbeing champions and are a trust who believe in the potential of digital. Through use of Elementals’ social prescribing platform that integrates with EMIS Web, GPs in Tameside and Glossop can effectively make one click referrals, and view referral updates all the way through from a link worker’s baseline assessment results, to attendance logs by a community provider.
Chris Easton, Head of Person and Community Centred Approaches at T&G ICFT said “We have a responsibility as a health and care system to ensure that we support people with the things that affect their health and the widest possible sense. Doing so delivers strong outcomes for individuals, but also the system by ensuring that people’s needs are met in the most appropriate way.”
Encouraging GP buy-in
Back in December, Simon Stevens, Head of the NHS, made a public speech to urge every GP to consider prescribing lifestyle changes instead of turning to medication.
Mr Stevens said “Rather than ‘a pill for every ill’, social prescribing is a new way of helping certain people get better and stay healthy. For people who are stressed or depressed, who have chronic pain, or with other long term health problems, social prescribing is often worth trying either in place of drugs or alongside other usual care.”