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.