It’s a familiar situation for anyone in Local Government – changing lifestyles and an aging population meet a widening funding gap, and something has to change in the way services are delivered.
A study by the NHS Alliance and the Primary Care Foundation estimated 27% of GP appointments could be avoided by using better technology and coordination between GPs and services.
Patients suffering from social exclusion, debt anxiety, poor diet or lack of exercise are often responsible for repeat appointments using valuable GP time. But, these underlying problems could be handled through other support services, allowing overstretched GPs to focus on patients with complex medical conditions.
The Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided take to action. So now, with consent from the patient, the GP can refer them to a Social Prescriber.
In partnership with Adur & Worthing Councils and West Sussex County Council, the CCG set up a new scheme, called Going Local, to get people out of doctors' surgeries and refer them to non-medical services available in their communities.
To be effective, this ‘social prescribing’ approach, based around a team of Community Referrers who assess patients’ needs and put them in touch with local support, would also require a solid tech platform.