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'Social Prescribers' to Support GP’s with Workloads

NHS England plans are set to introduce more specialist ‘link workers’ trained to prescribe social activities to GP patients who don’t require medication in tablet form.

These activities will include things such as art classes and exercise groups, and the idea behind the plans is that these ‘link workers’ will work alongside GP’s in an attempt to reduce their workloads. A link workers job role is to source community activities for patients in order to improve their general health and wellbeing, and the NHS has announced that by 2020/2021 over 1,000 of these will be recruited to support GP’s with their ever-increasing workloads.

The long-term plan for these link workers is to carry out around 900,000 patient appointments each year, as it is believed that those patients suffering from conditions such as anxiety or loneliness do not necessarily need to see a GP, rather, they need support in managing their condition or a little bit of encouragement to join in with social activities which could benefit their wellbeing.

NHS England’s Director of Personalised Care, James Sanderson said “Social prescribing is an important component of the NHS comprehensive model of personalised care and there is emerging evidence that it can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, such as improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing. The aim is that social prescribing schemes lead to a substantial reduction in the use of NHS services, including GP attendances.”

Mr Sanderson expects that by 2024, 2.5 million people will be benefitting from support provided by link workers.

The plans are being welcome by all within the health care sector it seems, as GP’s struggle to manage the increasing demand for appointments. It is hoped that those patients who can be supported by link workers instead will free up appointments for those needing a prescription that only a GP can provide.

Chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, has stated that the plans are “incredibly welcome.”

 

References:

BBC News. ‘More ‘Social Prescribers’ to Ease Pressure on GP’s.’ BBC News Online. (28 January 2019).

 

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