PATIENTS with social and emotional issues affecting their health can now be referred for help by their doctor following the extension of a new scheme.
All 22 GP practices across Redditch and Bromsgrove are now part of the social prescribing scheme following a successful trial with eight surgeries over a six month period.
The project is a joint venture between Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group and Worcestershire County Council and is aimed at giving GPs a way of offering help to patients who have issues affecting their health but cannot be resolved through medical means.
Under the scheme doctors can refer people to a range of voluntary organisations including those providing low level mental wellbeing support, projects which increase people’s activity levels, support for carers and advice on issues related to employment, debt and housing.
The relevant organisation then contacts the individual and works with them, with feedback on the support offered and the outcome sent to their GP.
Evidence shows people are more likely to respond to an offer of help or attend a session or activity if referred by a doctor.
Similar schemes elsewhere in the country have seen a drop in inappropriate GP visits, a reduction in reliance on antidepressants for moderate or mild depression and a reduction in social isolation.
A total of 65 referrals were made during the trial period but health bosses say a more detailed level of analysis and measure of the impact of the scheme will be available in six months time after it has been rolled out to other GP practices.
A spokesman said: “Social prescribing is a means of extending the range of options available to people who present to primary care.
“So far feedback from both GPs and partner organisations is positive and all are keen to continue and maintain the momentum and roll-out further.”
Hillview Medical Centre, Elgar House Surgery, Winyates Health Centre and Woodrow Medical Centre took part in the initial pilot project in Redditch and were chosen due to the health and social care needs of patients registered to their surgery.