Comment

28.03.16

What is the national social prescribing network?

Source: NHE Mar/Apr 16

Following the recent launch of the National Social Prescribing Network, Dr Marie Polley, the organisation’s co-chair, writes for NHE about its aims, objectives and how health professionals and commissioners can get involved.

Until recently, social prescribing has been a phrase on the lips of many, yet no-one knew what level of social prescribing was actually happening across the UK. 

The aim of the National Social Prescribing Network, which was borne out of a Wellcome Trust-funded research project, is to bring together the social prescribing stakeholders who have been making innovations in their local area, and creating a way of enabling strategic collaboration and sharing of best practice. 

It is reported that up to 20% of patients see a GP for a problem that requires a social solution, which is a burden that social prescribing seeks to relieve. 

How does social prescribing work? 

Over the past few months, the research the National Social Prescribing Network has been undertaking is showing that there is no single approach that sums up a social prescribing service.  

On the face of it, this could make it very hard to scale up such innovation. But preliminary data from a survey that the National Social Prescribing Network carried out has revealed that the intentions of the stakeholders in existing social prescribing services are the same – irrespective of the models being used. 

That is to enable healthcare practitioners to refer patients to a link worker, who can co-design an appropriate social prescription to support a patient to improve their health and wellbeing. The social prescription is most often provided by the voluntary and community sector. 

Innovators have reported key ingredients that they feel makes a social prescribing service a success.  It is these that enable a social prescribing service to be moulded to the differing needs of patients within the local environment. This approach also allows local assets to be harnessed, and new services in the community to be commissioned where the need arises.   

The lifeblood that runs through a social prescribing service is the communication, feedback and the relationships formed. So often we rightly hear the complaints about ‘silo mentality’ and lack of communication across departments in the health and social care sector. Social prescribing services deliberately communicate across these divides, by having a point of contact to refer to: the link worker. 

The link workers have many names in reality and they talk with healthcare professionals, they talk with patients in a language they understand, they listen, empathise, activate and motivate. Crucially, the link worker knows the resources and groups that are in the local community, and so can link a patient to the right type of support. 

Imagine a patient who has been socially isolated, has lost confidence to go to a group on their own, and who may have mental health issues. It is the link worker who can form the relationship with the patient to support them to overcome such barriers. 

Looking ahead 

Our network is growing at pace and there has been a phenomenal level of interest from policy-makers, healthcare professionals, the voluntary and community sector, researchers, link workers and patients. 

We are working as quickly as we can, and are delighted to have the support from NHS England in our endeavours. We are putting together a database to map social prescribing in the UK and to design resources such as toolkits for researchers and commissioners, which can support stakeholders to work strategically and collaboratively as social prescribing becomes the next big social movement to take hold. 

Do you want to be part of the National Social Prescribing Network? 

We welcome all healthcare professionals to collaborate with the National Social Prescribing Network. For more information download the report or visit our website to receive updates on our activity. We look forward to meeting you at one of our future events.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

NHS gambling clinic opens In Leeds

18/09/2019NHS gambling clinic opens In Leeds

National charity GambleAware have opened The NHS Northern Gambling Clinic in Leeds today, the first in the country outside of London. Throug... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
GPhC to begin publishing pharmacy inspections reports publicly

17/09/2019GPhC to begin publishing pharmacy inspections reports publicly

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has begun publishing pharmacy inspection reports online, with the aim of “providing assurance and... more >

681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

An ageing population means hand care and injury prevention is more important than ever

23/08/2019An ageing population means hand care and injury prevention is more important than ever

Grey Giddins, member of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, discusses how hand care and injury prevention have become increasingly important given the UK’s ageing population   It’s no secret that the UK’s ageing population presents challenges for the NHS. The fact that we are living longer means greater demand for medical care across a number of healthcare specialisms, one of which is hand surgery. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

interviews

NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >

last word

The NHS needs more senior women in leadership

The NHS needs more senior women in leadership

The gender pay gap in the NHS remains a hotly debated topic, especially as the final report from the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine Review approaches. Andrea Hester, deputy director of employment rel... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

health service focus

What commissioners need to transform healthcare

04/09/2019What commissioners need to transform healthcare

Dr Graham Jackson, co-chair at NHS Clinical C... more >
From post office to national health service

03/09/2019From post office to national health service

Rob Houghton, the chief operations officer fo... more >