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Reducing GP and A&E demand - social prescribing in East Merton

Up to 8.Use social prescribing
April 29. 2019
Robert Varnam

East Merton's social prescribing scheme improved patients' wellbeing by 77%, reduced GP attendance by 33% and A&E visits by 50%, among people with some of the most complex needs in the local area.

The evaluation of the initial pilot scheme points to a number of important success factors:


  • Strong engagement within the Implementation Group ensured that all key stakeholders had agreed on what the Social Prescribing model looked like and what the referral criteria was.
  • By using the existing systems within the practices the Social Prescribing programme and SPC was easily embedded within the GP Practices.
  • Where there was strong engagement and visibility of the SPC within the practice, more referrals to the programme were seen.
  • By ensuring the early set up of IT systems the SPC had access to patient’s case management systems and could book patient appointments straightaway and understand the circumstances around why they were referred.
  • The GP Champion was key in translating the ‘blue-sky’ ideas in the pilot strategy into practical solutions for the project plan and pathway. He had also been key to raising the profile of the programme and championing the programme in his own practice.

Social Prescribing appointments

  • Patients are seen within two weeks of referral which enabled them to address their issues or concerns quickly through voluntary and community channels.
  • The Wellbeing Tool survey added structure to the Social Prescribing appointments. This helped patients to think about their situation more thoroughly and allowed the evaluators to see the impact of Social Prescribing on the patient’s health and wellbeing over time.
  • The relaxed personal approach of the SPC helped build good rapport and a trusting relationship with the patients. Additionally the SPCs ability to address some issues ‘there and then’ helped patients to take that first step towards supporting their recovery which was valued highly by patients.
  • The SPC’s strong links to the community and breadth of knowledge of support available enabled patients to access the available appropriate support right away.

Download the full report here

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