Social Prescribing service pilot launches in Fairlop

03 October 2017

GPs, practice managers and practice staff in the area are piloting a new approach in which they will be able to refer patients for support if they are feeling socially isolated, low, sad or anxious or have Type Two diabetes. 

Launched on 2 October, the service will offer patients a one-to-one appointment with a ‘Health and Wellbeing Buddy’ who will discuss concerns, explore what is important to the individual and support them in accessing local activities and services that suit their needs. 

The social prescribing scheme was developed based on a recommendation from the Redbridge Fairness Commission, which was set up to investigate inequality and recommend ways that partner organisations can work together to look after the borough’s most vulnerable residents. 

Councillor Mark Santos, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board in Redbridge, said: 

“Pressure on the NHS and social care continues to grow – with the combination of funding limitations, people living longer and increasing prevalence of long-term health conditions. 

“We must continue to focus on finding new ways to prevent, treat and sustainably manage ill-health.” 

Social prescribing helps patients access a range of services, groups and social activities with the aim of improving social and emotional wellbeing, which can make a real difference to a person’s health. It provides a link between medical and social support – with GPs connecting patients with a range of non-medical community-based social support, through ‘prescribing’ or referring them to it. It aims to empower patients, particularly where there is not a clear need for traditional clinical interventions or where these have not resulted in significant improvement previously. 

Dr Anil Mehta, Chair of Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The social prescribing service in Fairlop is a prime example of the NHS, local authority and community and voluntary sector coming together to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people.” 

This service will be available from the end of September and is a joint initiative by Redbridge Council, Redbridge CCG and Redbridge Council for Voluntary Services. 

The news follows London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement of plans to expand social prescribing in his draft health inequalities strategy for London, released in August.