This week NHS England has announced plans to recruit an ‘army of workers’ as part of plans to ramp up social prescribing.
One thousand social prescribing ‘link workers’ will be recruited as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. It is hoped that they will handle around 900,000 patient appointments every year, easing pressures on GPs by reducing the number of appointments that are not directly related to medical conditions.
NHS England has reported on the growing evidence that referrals to community services such as exercise or art classes, history groups and ballroom dancing, can boost health and wellbeing more than prescribed medication.
Whilst NHS England’s commitment to social prescribing has been broadly welcomed, many in the VCSE sector have expressed disappointment that services are not being commissioned instead to local voluntary and community organisations, which in many areas are already delivering successful social prescribing schemes. This includes many of NAVCA’s members, who use their unique position to coordinate social prescribing schemes, harnessing the power of communities to improve local people’s health and wellbeing.
To read more about NHS England’s plans, read the press release here.