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CCGs invest hundreds of thousands into GP social prescribing


6 February 2017

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Healthcare leaders in Barnsley will be investing £821,000 over the next three years to build a social prescribing service that GPs can refer patients to.

The new scheme, funded by NHS Barnsley CCG, will launch in April 2017 and will be run by South Yorkshire Housing Association, which operates a similar scheme in Doncaster that has reduced the number of repeat GP visits by 68%.

Healthcare leaders in Barnsley will be investing £821,000 over the next three years to build a social prescribing service that GPs can refer patients to.

The new scheme, funded by NHS Barnsley CCG, will launch in April 2017 and will be run by South Yorkshire Housing Association, which operates a similar scheme in Doncaster that has reduced the number of repeat GP visits by 68%.

The service aims to support people who go to see their GP often with social, emotional or practical needs, where a prescription for medication would not help.

Approximately a fifth of GP visits are linked to non-medical issues such as loneliness, debt, housing, work, relationships and unemployment.

The scheme will enable GPs to refer people with these types of problems to a social prescribing team, who will discuss with the patient what help or support is needed.

The type of support will range from putting people in touch with the local fishing club to getting advice on managing debt while also enabling people to manage their own health.

Dr Nick Balac, a local GP and chair of NHS Barnsley CCG, said: “We know from other areas that this type of support has the potential to reduce admissions to hospital and reduce the number of GP visits people need to make, but most importantly, to improve the health and wellbeing of the participants.”

NHS Tower Hamlets CCG is also investing in social prescribing by spending £240,000 on expanding their existing model, which provides GPs with a single referral form that can be sent directly to a local social prescribing co-ordinator.

Dr Sam Everington, GP and chair of NHS Tower Hamlets CCG, said: ‘What we’re modelling is a referral form on the desktop of every GP, which will enable them to refer a patient, whether it’s for a housing issue or education or a job or whatever it is.’

He added that the idea is ‘that GPs have at their fingertips a whole raft of people that can help them deal with these things, which quite often even patients will medicalise’.

The model is designed to help cut back on the number of patients ‘who come back time and time again’ by helping them ‘to take more ownership and control over their own health’.

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