Social prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with sources of support within the community. It provides GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing.
People are living longer and as they get older, developing long term health conditions. Their health is affected by a wide range of factors including employment, housing, debt, social isolation and culture. These factors are not amenable to traditional health interventions. The NHS England Five Year Forward View calls for a radical upgrade in prevention and public health, and greater engagement with people and communities to harness the energy and potential they have.
Social prescribing presents the NHS and local authorities with an opportunity to do this. It helps people to make use of existing community services, resources and facilities which can help them manage or overcome these social factors. Social prescribing can help to improve the health of local people, the quality of care and services, and productivity as part of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).