GPs to refer patients with mental health problems to the Red Cross
The British Red Cross will run pilots for adults who have low to moderate mental health problems and are frequent attenders of GP or ambulance services in Pembrokeshire and Caerphilly.
The Welsh Government has announced £1.35m for charity-run pilots of social schemes to reduce reliance on prescription medicines in people with poor mental health.
Mind Cymru and the British Red Cross will be running the social-prescribing pilots across Wales to help patients with non-medical interventions including referral to advice on housing or debt or local schemes to improve wellbeing.
And Mind Cymru has signed up to work with adults who are isolated, lonely and at risk of poor mental health in Taf Ely, South Powys, and North Denbighshire.
In both cases link workers will develop tailored support plans with patients based on local services.
Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘Social prescribing can be an excellent way to provide long-term mental health support for people in their own communities and reduce reliance on prescription drugs.
‘These pilots will build on existing work across Wales to promote social prescribing, to ensure people have access to care and support which truly recognises them as an individual and takes account of the full range of factors which could be affecting their mental health and wellbeing.’
He added the pilots would also provide evidence about which interventions are most effective in order to be rolled out across Wales.
A recent study at Glasgow University concluded that social prescribing interventions may fail because funding cuts have limited local services.
Dr Peter Saul, RCGP Wales joint chair, said they welcomed efforts to give practices more options for managing patients.
‘GPs can sometimes be left with very limited options outside of prescribing medication. This needs to be addressed to ensure the highest quality patient care.’
He added: ‘Of course, it is important to remember that medication can be an effective treatment for many patients.
‘Developing alternatives is important in creating a wider range of options to ensure long-term patient wellbeing.’
The news comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May announced this week that all GPs in England will have social prescribing options in place to refer patients with loneliness by 2023.