Over several years, we have been evaluating and supporting the development of social prescribing in London and nationally...
In London, we were funded by the Newham Clinical Commissioning Group to evaluate Newham community prescribing, a small pilot using link workers to refer people with diabetes type 2 to four organisations delivering physical activity and healthy eating classes. This model is resembling an exercise on referral scheme. Our evaluation showed statistically significant benefits both qualitatively and quantitatively for the health and engagement of users, particularly for those who were previously inactive. However, there was much more to do in terms of delivering the process of implementation of the intervention.
Social prescribing in City and Hackney
We then received some funding from the Health Foundation and City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group and, in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London, evaluated City and Hackney Social Prescribing pilot, one of the largest in the UK with 22 GP practices involved in referring 737 patients to 85 community organisations via three link workers involved in meeting patients up to six sessions of 40 minutes each. We did an outcome, qualitative, process evaluation with all stakeholders involved. We used a unique research design with a matched controlled group of 6 GP practices that did not offer social prescribing in City and Hackney. We found a gap between the qualitative and quantitative evidence, patients interviewed face to face told us that social prescribing increased their hope and self-esteem, it was life changing in some cases. The outcome evaluation did not show statistically significant changes. However, GP consultation rates declined over time. This led us to conclude that we need more work to understand what it is that works with social prescribing and change the tools we are using to measure changes in health outcomes.
For further information about our work on social prescribing please look below:
6 minute video looking at patients' experience - Watch now
Shine Report: evaluation of social prescribing in City and Hackney - Read more
Our involvement in the national social prescribing network (SPN)
Thanks to a dissemination funding from the Health Foundation we were also able to disseminate the results of our research through the national social prescribing network (SPN). Dr Marcello Bertotti (Senior Research Fellow) and Caroline Frostick (Research Fellow) are on the steering group of the social prescribing network and have supported it from its inception. The social prescribing network was only set up in January this year (2016) but it already has 400 members, testimony of the considerable interest surrounding social prescribing. GP Michael Dixon is co-chair of the network and was nominated by NHS England as national health champion for social prescribing. The network was launched at the House of Commons in March this year and has held three social prescribing events (Wakefield, London and Bristol) which attracted an average of 70-80 people. IHHD helped to organise, pay for and presented at all these events. The London event, in particular, was oversubscribed thanks to the involvement of the Healthy London Partnership which represents all London's CCGs. The social prescribing network, NHS England and the Healthy London Partnership are now developing guidance for social prescribing. We are linked with all major social prescribing pilots nationally.
We are currently evaluating a social prescribing pilot in Waltham Forest jointly funded by the London Borough of Waltham Forest and Waltham Forest CCG. Social prescribing is only being delivered over the phone to people referred from GP practices and the council's Adult and Social Care Department. We are conducting pre and post health outcome, process and qualitative evaluation for this project. We are also doing an economic evaluation in the form of a Social Return on Investment (SROI).