Social prescribing has existed under different names for a long time. Actual robust proof on the effectiveness of social prescribing is, however, still lacking.
Significant proof on the impact of social prescribing has proven to be difficult to gather without large-scale data on the improvements in outcome for practices as well as socially prescribed individuals over a longer stretch of time.
That said, there are a great number of positive signs that reveal the impact of social prescribing in the UK. Local services that have been offered over the years have shown great signs. In addition, its relevance during the COVID-19 lockdown is hard to ignore.
Some interesting research and reports provide general practices and the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector with relevant results. Below we have provided a quick overview of several relevant reports.
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The Rotherham Social Prescribing Pilot
A pilot on social prescribing in Rotherham has shown some great results in the number of hospital admissions. The Centre for Regional Economic Social Research performed the study.
The evaluation points to a reduction in patients' use of hospital resources after they had been socially prescribed:
- as much as 21 per cent reduction in inpatient admissions
- as much as 21 per cent reduction in outpatient appointments
- as much as 20 per cent reduction in Accident and Emergency attendances
Though a study on a larger scale and over a longer stretch of time could provide more solid evidence as to the effectiveness, this pilot does show the great potential of social prescribing.
Reduction in number of GP appointments in Merton
Mohan Sekeram, GP Principal at Wideway Medical Practical, has voiced his positive view on social prescribing nation-wide. In addition, he shared some interesting results on social prescribing in his locality.
In the London Borough of Merton social prescribing has produced a positive reduction in the number of GP appointments. The evaluation, which took place pre-COVID, revealed a 33% reduction in GP appointments. In addition, A&E attendance dropped by 50% and wellbeing scores improved by 77%.
The borough has invested greatly in social prescribing with nine social prescribing link workers providing help to individuals with complex social needs. The link workers have continued to provide a vital role in Merton remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bristol CCG reports improved health
Bristol's Clinical Commissioning Group reported on improvements in quality of life, general health and anxiety levels. The report on these improvements came following research on the effectiveness of different social prescribing models that were set out throughout the city.
In addition, the report stated that where practices adopted a full social prescribing model, GPs were positive in the effects on their workload and practice.
Wellspring Healthy Living Centre report on economic impact
Wellspring Healthy Living Centre, a service offered in Bristol, set up a Social Prescribing Wellbeing Programme within their organisation. Following setting up their social prescribing project, the organisation decided on analysing the social and economic impact of their service.
Within their report they remarked an interesting result, namely the social return on investment within holistic social prescribing. Their results showed that their programme brings £2.90 social value for each £1 of investment.
The above results provide some great signs social prescribing can offer a solution for those individuals with complex social needs. If you offer social prescribing or are planning to do so, you might wish to gather relevant data to provide proof for further investment. Our social prescribing platform provides you with that and a host of other helpful tools to manage your social prescribing efforts.