NHS Property Services (NHSPS) are helping ease the winter pressures by diverting tens of thousands of patients away from primary care via their social prescribing hubs.
NHSPS have successfully identified, converted and subsequently launched more than 50 social prescribing hubs that allow patients to access non-clinical services like, suicide prevention counselling, breastfeeding advice, sensory gardens and much more.
Their programme is designed to give patients the tools to take control of their own health, which will hopefully help reduce the increasing pressure on clinical and acute services.
Around 35,000 people have accessed the services offered at the various converted sites since the project began in 2019 – that includes patients with mental health issues, people with special educational needs or learning difficulties and disabilities, young carers and expectant parents.
The social prescribing hubs support NHS England’s pledge earlier this year to recruit 2,000 link workers in order to alleviate pressure on primary care during the festive period.
Rhea Horlock, Head of Corporate and Social Responsibility for NHSPS, said: “Passing the 50-hub milestone is important progress in our efforts to support NHSE in meeting its targets for 900,000 people to be referred to social prescribing by 2023/24. We are committed to continue to grow our social prescribing programme to bring this valuable support to more local communities.
“With the NHS Long Term Plan expecting to be refreshed over the coming months, non-clinical interventions such as social prescribing are expected to feature as a core focus for innovation given their proven results to reduce the pressures on primary and acute care. NHS Property Services will continue to support the development of hubs across the NHS estate to support this growing ambition.”
One example of the type of projects NHSPS is delivering in this programme is The Listening Place in London, which provides face-to-face support for people with chronic suicidal thoughts, delivered by extremely well-trained and professionally supervised volunteers.
Lucy Patterson, Visitor Support Manager at The Listening Place, said: “We are offering some 100 appointments a day, with currently over 1,100 suicidal visitors receiving ongoing support for the time they need from our Listening Volunteers.
“We have received over 11,000 referrals in five and a half years. We need to provide a warm listener, and a safe and welcoming place, and give our Visitors the opportunity to talk confidentially about their feelings and their thoughts of suicide.”