NHS Announces ‘Social Prescribing’ Service to Improve Local Health
An innovative approach to supporting health and wellbeing is being launched by the NHS to benefit people living in South and East Leeds.
Connect for Health, funded by NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group, will be delivered by a consortium of local charities led by Leeds Mind. The service launches on 23 November and will support local people to access a wide range community groups and activity in a bid to reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing.
All patients registered with a GP practice in Leeds South and East will be eligible to access the free service. Patients will be able to access this service via the phone or website, or via a referral from a health professional such as their GP.
The Connect for Health team will work with each individual to find local support that meets their needs; from walking groups and dance classes, to healthy cooking classes and gardening groups, social groups for older people and even debt and housing advice.
The aim of the service is to help and support patients maintain a healthy lifestyle, prevent illness or manage existing health problems and long term conditions. The service will offer an opportunity to tackle the wider issues that can impact on health and wellbeing in a way that cannot always be solved through traditional medical routes alone.
Schemes like Connect for Health are sometimes referred to as ‘Social Prescribing’ and are a relatively new, emerging field in healthcare. Similar schemes that have been created in other parts of the region such as Rotherham and Bradford have found to be effective in helping patients manage long term conditions better, supporting people to gain a healthier lifestyle, reducing social isolation and with that, reducing demand on GP time and resources.
Lesley Freeman is a GP at Marsh Street Surgery in Rothwell, one of the practices that will benefit from the service and as the CCG’s Clinical Lead for Elderly Care, she is keen to see the impact it will have for her patients. She says:
“GPs across Leeds South and East are delighted to see the Connect for Health service go live for our patients. We know that there are many excellent community groups and activities operating in our area that can really make a positive difference to our patients’ health and wellbeing, for example by reducing social isolation or supporting emotional needs.
“In the past, GPs haven’t always had the in-depth knowledge, or resources, to explore those opportunities and make the referrals for our patients. The Connect for Health service will help solve those issues – enabling us to utilise the support in our local community much easier, and in a co-ordinated and monitored way that will become part of each patient’s overall healthcare in the same way as a traditional prescription for medication.”
Helen Kemp, Chief Executive of Leeds Mind says:
“We are really excited to be working with Leeds South and East CCG to deliver social prescribing. Connect for Health is designed to be accessible and flexible to patients’ needs, with staff members able to speak multiple languages, and an option to access short term support in accessing chosen activities, for example, for those who may need accompanying to a first visit. We are looking forward to working with local people to enable them to manage their health conditions better”.
To find out more about Connect for Health or to access the service, visit www.connectforhealthleeds.org.uk or call (0113) 387 6380.