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GP workload to be tackled with £130k social prescribing scheme

GPs in Haverhill in Suffolk will be able to reduce practice workload by referring patients onto social prescribing coordinators, following a £130,000 investment.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council was given £69,000 from Suffolk County Council and £63,768 from the Department for Communities and Local Government to fund the ‘LifeLink coordinators’, who will direct GP patients to community groups and activities in the town.

The council hopes to start recruiting for the two coordinators in May with a view to launching the pilot scheme in the summer.

Leaders behind the programme said they hope it will reduce the ‘high percentage of appointments which are for social needs rather than medical’.

Lauren White-Miller, a families and communities officer at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said referrals to the programme will come from GPs, hospitals, Suffolk County Council ‘and from within the community’.

She said: ‘It is believed that a fifth of visits to the GP are for social issues, which could be supported within the local community.

‘Haverhill has a wealth of activities and community groups that would be able to support and would mean that people are getting help from within the community of Haverhill.’

The news comes as a recent study suggested social prescribing could reduce GP and hospital workload by a fifth, and as CCGs are investing hundreds of thousands in social prescribing schemes around the country.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Council of Despair

    ‘high percentage of appointments which are for social needs rather than medical’.

    says it all really ... you train to be a clinician but you end up seeing social cases. What next GPs ideally placed to repair boilers, cars, do household DIY?

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  • We call them 'Community Connectors' here (NHS Ayrshire &Arran)- have been a great, but as yet not fully utilised, addition to the practice team- signposting to local 3rd sector facilities and activities, and also running weight-reduction and smoking cessation clinics. As GPs we have always been 1st stop for people needing services/groups/activities but didn't know about them. Or perhaps Locums just don't see those patients? (Referring to Anonymous Locum GP, 13April 2017 6:35pm)

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  • Worthy and smile raising but will do little to ease workload, infact this will increase workload. Unfortunately as GPs we have become first stop for absolutely everything which is drowning primary care. I didn't train to be a social worker or care navigator, it was hard enough persuade patients to see a nurse they will go and listen intently to their holistic practitioner and yogalates practitioner and nip straight back for more pregabalin.

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  • The other day I had to revert to using my prescription pad and handwrote a script for 'LIFE-supply one; use daily as directed' because that bloody EMIS programme didn't have this option on the medications page.

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