With the number of practising GPs lower than target, and demands on primary care increasing, there is a renewed focus on community prescribing that could ease pressure on primary care.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to improve access to personalised care, social prescribing is being mainstreamed by the NHS across England. Nearly every Primary Care Network (PCN) now has at least one Social Prescribing Link Worker (SPLW) in post, with the aspiration to have 3-4 per PCN by 2023-24.
With 1 in 4 GP appointments taken up by non-clinical issues, it is social problems like debt, loneliness, housing issues, family troubles, unemployment or work problems that people are seeking help for. These issues are affecting their physical and mental health and social prescribing can help to solve or ease many of these issues.
Investment is on the table, with just over £1bn available to support Primary Care Networks in recruiting extra staff to deliver this plan and to ultimately support the Link Worker to focus on their patients. Achieving this will require continued collaboration and partnership across sectors. Effective social prescribing involves local authorities, health and care services and VCSE organisations working together.
According to a survey conducted by the RCGP in 2018, an astonishing 59% of family doctors felt that social prescribing would help free up appointments to deal with more clinical enquiries which are vital to address in a post-pandemic society. As consulting hours increase for GPs, social prescribing can offer a solution that benefits all. 88% of respondents to a poll conducted by Social RX Connect found that social prescribing could be the solution to relieving overburdened GP services.
Staff work tirelessly in their communities to support people through a personalised healthcare approach, helping individuals to live their best life. With an increased focus on social prescribing, new recruits and a clear demand, the pressure on Link Workers will only rise, so having the right tools to support Link Workers and their colleagues becomes critical to ensure they have the data, connections and outcomes at their fingertips.
Co-designed with Bexley Voluntary Service Council, Social RX Connect is a software that meets and supports the differing requirements from Link Workers, Commissioners and the large and varied group of social care providers.
The system works with both SystmOne and EMIS. It is a simple hub where everyone involved in a person’s case can see, input and access at any moment where that person is in their journey. It allows Link Workers to monitor progress and outcomes to GPs and healthcare workers accessing data that they need to play their part in the pathway. For Link Workers it offers clarity; for commissioners, it means that contract management and tracking service users is streamlined, and, for patients, they can decide who should have access to their pathway, thereby ensuring confidentiality.
Vitally, it also helps to identify capacity and demand challenges as well as being a helpful aid when planning.
Easy to integrate with other software solutions used in health and social care, HSCN compliant and intuitive to use, Social RX Connect is an excellent support for Link workers who are delivering a game-changing healthcare service to the nation as they empower people to have a say in their lives and health.
To find out more about how Social RX Connect can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Survey conducted by Social RX Connect. A sample of 156 people responded to the question, “Could social prescribing be the solution to relieving our overburdened GP services?”