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  • Communities in East Lancashire benefit from social prescribing on National Social Prescribing Day- March 12th 2020

Communities in East Lancashire benefit from social prescribing on National Social Prescribing Day- March 12th 2020

Connectors

A pioneering scheme that has invested about £3 M over 5 years to support social prescribing in local communities in East Lancashire is being celebrated on National Social Prescribing Day – 12th March 2020. 

The East Lancashire social prescribing scheme – known locally as “Prescription for Wellbeing” is a partnership between NHS East Lancashire CCG and Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, and Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale CVS.  

The CCG first approached the CVSs to micro-commission community projects on their behalf five years ago, with the aim of helping communities to develop innovative solutions to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

The scheme is a tangible investment in local communities, recognising the skills, experience and knowledge that communities can bring to support patients through a wide range of non-medical, socially orientated support.

The investment has not only funded social prescribing activities, but has funded an innovative network of skilled “community connectors” in each of the boroughs of East Lancashire, supported by Hyndburn and Ribble Valley CVS, and Burnley, Pendle and Rosendale CVS.

The Community Connector scheme in across East Lancashire is a Social Prescription project funded by the CCG,  to help people feared to be at risk of social isolation, suffering from depression or anxiety, or those that may just need a little support in day to day life.  Patients receive a much more personal and bespoke service, giving the person the confidence and tools to re-discover the quality of life without the need for NHS or medical intervention from GPs or other clinicians. 

This year, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale CVS are celebrating National Social Prescribing Day by arranging information mornings in GP practices and releasing patient story films about how social prescribing has transformed people’s lives.

The practices are:

  • Thursby Surgery, Browhead Road, Burnley, BB10 3BF 9 am -1 pm
  • Burnley Group Practice,St Peters Centre, Burnley 9.30 am – 11.30 am
  • CHAI Centre, Daneshouse, Burnley 9.30 am – 11.30 am
  • CVS Office, 19 Market Square, Nelson, BB9 7LP 10 am 12 noon
  • Colne Health Centre, Colne 9.30 am – 11.30 am

The films are available here: https://www.bprcvs.co.uk/index.php/18-home/slider/2587-national-social-prescribing-day-2020

In addition, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley CVS are hosting a drop in afternoon at Accrington Town Hall on March 12th for social prescribing day, to showcase some of the community activities to members of the public and enable community groups to discuss community funding.

With GPs in East Lancashire under increasing pressure, social prescribing complements the medical care and treatment provided.  GPs can refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services provided by the voluntary, community and faith sector (VCFS). Across East Lancashire there are around 1,500 VCF groups.

These services can include everything from debt counselling, support groups and walking clubs, to community cooking classes and one-to-one peer mentoring. Social prescribing is increasingly recognised as an alternative way to reduce pressure on the NHS whilst investing in our communities.  

The practical benefits that these schemes have had in supporting independence, reducing social isolation, building confidence and self-esteem, and improving the overall health and wellbeing of people in local communities is significant.

Michelle Pilling, Deputy Chair of NHS East Lancashire CCG is passionate about the benefits of social prescribing in providing holistic care and as a way of investing in local communities:

“As one of the few Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the country to fund social prescribing schemes since we were first established in 2013 we are especially proud to have supported and invested in over 600 small, mainly volunteer led, local community groups who are doing so much to help local people to stay healthy and well.

“Social Prescribing provides a way of connecting people to non-medical support in the community, which can include  opportunities for physical activity, learning new skills, making friends, as well as support with employment and housing. 

“It is particularly effective at addressing loneliness and isolation and helping those people with long term conditions to better manage their health. It can also offer GPs an alternative to a drug prescription and reduce workload. In practices where GPs and their wider teams are already working closely alongside their local community groups they are reporting improved job satisfaction at a time when retention of GPs and associated healthcare workers is facing such serious challenges.”

Dr Yas Naheed, Burnley GP and Burnley East Primary Care Network Clinical Director said:

“As a GP in Burnley I have found social prescribing to be a really useful addition to the range of options I have available to me.  For some it is often better to be referred to a community activity where they can build their confidence or feel less isolated rather than receive prescription medication.

As a Primary Care Network of our local GP practices we have seen the value of local community organisations – they can help people in ways that GPs and our teams simply can’t.   We now have community connectors in place who work within the Burnley East Primary Care Network who are fantastic in helping people to discover local community support and networks.

Social prescribing is a fundamental building block in our approach to tackling the causes of ill health – not just simply treating the effects.  Our community connectors will work from the new Health and Wellbeing Hub at the Acorn Primary Care Centre when it is finalised (but work within the community), and the will link closely with all GP practices in the primary care network.  They are hosted by Hyndburn and Ribble Valley CVS/Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale CVS, and will coordinate and facilitate access to our diverse sources of help and support.”

“Medicine and referrals to specialists all have a role to play, but what has impressed me most has been seeing people improve their health and wellbeing by being part of a group or activity.  Our communities have the power of health and wellbeing in their hands, and GPs and the CCG, along with the voluntary sector can help this happen.”

With the national roll out of social prescribing schemes NHS East Lancashire CCG along with Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, and Hyndburn and Ribble Valley CVS, remains committed to the fundamental principle of investing in and growing our voluntary, community and faith sector organisations so that they remain sustainable and are able to address people’s needs in a more holistic way, tackling health inequalities and supporting people to take more control of their own health.