GPs will be able to refer more patients to social activities and other types of support to improve health and wellbeing after a Government announcement that £4.5 million is to be put into ‘social prescribing’ projects.
Evidence shows that ‘social prescribing’ can reduce demand on NHS services. A UK study found that after three to four months, 80 per cent of patients referred to a social prescribing scheme had reduced their use of A&E, outpatient appointments and inpatient admissions.
A total of 23 projects in England will receive a share of the funding to extend existing schemes or establish new ones.
The funding will come from the Health and Wellbeing Fund, part of a programme of government investment in the voluntary sector. The projects will be fully funded through the scheme in their first year. Additional joint funding from local commissioners will be agreed for the subsequent two years.