It comes after South Ribble Borough Council agreed to pump £240,000 into a new social prescribing service.
Social prescribing is a way for healthcare professionals and other organizations to direct people to places that can offer them support for non-medical needs – but which can often have a significant impact on health. of an individual.
It has been rolled out across the NHS in recent years in groups of GP practices, but the District Council has now decided to step in to boost the supply available in South Ribble.
This means locals could be directed to a range of community and voluntary groups – including those offering arts, cooking, friendship and advice on healthy eating.
However, the council says its direct involvement means that local authority services such as housing can be brought into the social prescribing model to provide a fuller and more comprehensive level of support for those who may need it.
Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Mick Titherington, told a full council meeting – at which the plans were approved – that the proposed investment was an acknowledgment of the fact that many issues which affect a person’s health are beyond the remit of the NHS. .
“[Social prescribing] is an integral part of the health and wellness program. Once it is up and running it will also benefit the NHS in terms of costs…as we hope people, rather than having to access medical services [like] gps, [can be supported] to overcome the difficulties they face at any given time,” said Cllr Titherington.
The Authority will finance two new social prescription relays and a senior social prescription relay for a period of two years. A report to the council revealed that the Ribble Medical Group, one of the primary care networks covering large parts of the borough, is ‘in principle’ open to contracting out its social prescribing function to the authority – and thus to the improvement of the service already offered. Negotiations are now set to take place on the arrangement.
Conservative opposition group leader Karen Walton said she supported many of the ‘principles’ of social prescribing – and backed the council’s intervention – but said the service should be ‘provided by the GP partnerships that are funded for [offer it]”.
“It is not a legal requirement to be funded by South Ribble Borough Council. Nonetheless, this council has broken down many barriers and worked within communities, so they are well placed to provide vital information to make social prescribing a success for the health and well-being of our residents – especially the most vulnerable. vulnerable”.
However, Labor council leader Paul Foster said there were “chronic” issues some locals were facing that the council needed to address.
“We have to get out of this. [notion of] “It’s not our legal duty, so why are we bothering?” It’s exactly because it’s not our legal duty – and our community needs us – that we should bother,” said Cllr Foster.
He told the meeting that the NHS and welfare system were ‘on their knees’ – and highlighted the early interventions Chorley residents had benefited from as their borough council had been involved in social prescribing these last years.
Farington East Ward Councilor Paul Wharton-Hardman added that social prescribing was “proven” to reduce demand on GPs and accident and emergency services, as well as limit repeat calls to the ambulance service.
“[Social prescribing] will help many residents become less dependent on medication and see improvements in their health, while helping some of the most vulnerable residents to be less isolated and feel more involved in [their] local communities and activities,” he said.
But Buckshaw and Worden Ward Councilor Alan Ogilvie warned recruitment for the new positions could be difficult when employment was only guaranteed for two years.