From July 1 the NHS will put its social prescription plan into action, aiming for one link worker per primary care network and 100% reimbursement.
The service’s priorities are said to be to inform, educate and enable GPs to universally bring about the major shift in perspective needed, aided by NHS England regional networks and the Royal College of GP Champions.
It aims to roll out as many as 4,500 link workers by 2023, and develop national and regional menus for social prescription and establish community builders, leadership from local authority and funding and leadership.
Dr Michael Dixon, national clinical lead of social prescribing, NHS England commented: “The next five years will see or sink social prescription. The idea of social prescribing is not new, but it’s about giving it a name and turning it into a national movement. We’re all responsible for each other and there’s a lot we can do for each other.”
Positive feedback from social prescribing agendas in Gloucestershire, West London and Croydon are already showing promise for the plan, which aims to reduce overuse of antibiotics and highlight quaternary prevention; the actions taken to identify a patient at risk of overmedicalisation.
Last November Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced plans to establish the National Academy for Social Prescribing to lead the practice under a renewed drive to improve the prevention of ill health.
“I see social prescribing as fundamental to prevention. And I see prevention as fundamental to the future of the NHS,” Hancock said.
Linking patients in primary care with sources of support within the community provides GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing, in turn reducing pressure on GPs and the NHS, and costing significantly less than multiple medications.