Social Prescribing in the Community

July 2014
Social Determinants of Health
The issue we sought to address
Over 50% of health need is socially determined.
Areas where the population has poor social determinants of health, such
as Tower Hamlets, have the following characteristics :
Over-representation of long term conditions such as diabetes
Late presentations of cancer
Lower than average life expectancy
High levels of depression
High rates of child and adult obesity
High rates of GP consultation, prescribing and admissions
The logic for social prescribing
• Improving social determinants of health improves people’s
knowledge, skills, confidence and conditions to lead a healthy
• Unique position of healthcare professionals to understand
patient needs
• A referral made by a healthcare professional carries authority
• Healthcare professionals do not always know what community
services are available and how to refer patients to them
How we established a social prescribing
function and embedded it in five GP practices
• Built relationships with patients, service providers & GP practices
• Collated a directory of local services & providers
• Embedded a simple referral form, to be used to refer to all
services, in practices’ EMIS systems
• Co-ordinator managed all referrals & supported them to access a
range of local services
• Follow up surveys, interviews & informal conversations to
evaluate & refine the service; feedback given to GP practices
Referral rates:
• 331 referrals received in 6 month pilot; currently receiving
100+ per month
• Increasing number of referrals have more complex needs
Referral services:
• 70% health programmes (e.g. Health Trainers)
• 20% services for vulnerable people (e.g. older people, people
with mental health issues)
• 10% employment support, adult learning and/or welfare advice
70% said it had
made a significant
improvement in
their lives
75% said that it had resolved or
partially resolved the issue
70% of patients said that they would not have accessed
the service otherwise
The need for social prescribing for
cancer patients
• 25% - 60% of cancer survivors have unmet social needs,
which impacts their health and wellbeing
• There is limited coordination between the services and
support offered by the health and voluntary sectors, which
contributes to poor cancer patient experience
• As an increasing number of people are living with or beyond
cancer, un-met social needs will become a problem for more
The aims of a cancer specific social
prescribing service
• Improve quality of life
• Raise awareness of the value of community services
• Support integration of care and support
• Reduce demand on health services
Development of a cancer specific
social prescribing service
• Work with key stakeholders (e.g. CNSs, GPs, Barts
Health NHS Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support, London
Cancer, existing social prescribing services)
• Scope a cancer specific social prescribing service
across East London over four months
• Integrate with primary care and secondary care
through linking with the Recovery Care Package (Holistic
Needs Assessment and Cancer Care Review)

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