Social Prescribing – a real success story

Article date
2 February 2016
Primary interest

Sheffield Hallam University has recently published the annual evaluation of the Social Prescribing Service (SPS) delivered by Voluntary Action Rotherham.  The two year pilot project started in 2012, was funded by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It has now been re-commissioned  for a further three years through the Better Care Fund.

The Rotherham SPS “aims to increase the capacity of GPs to meet the non-clinical needs of patients with long-term conditions who are intensive users of primary care resources”. The service also administers a grant pot to fund a menu of services most needed by the SPS service users (e.g. advice and information, advocacy and support, befriending, carer respite and subsidised community transport).

GPs can refer patients to voluntary and community sector advisers, who then examine the patient’s non-medical support needs and refer them to appropriate services, which could include physical activities such as tai chi or community gardening projects.

The evaluation shows reductions in non-elective admissions to hospital and in attendance at Accident and Emergency. Patients report improvement to their wellbeing and ability to self-manage their conditions. SPS helps to reduce “social isolation and loneliness for people with long-term conditions, enabling them to become more independent and engaged in their communities”

Read the full Rotherham SPS report here.

Reading Voluntary Action is delivering a 12 month Social Prescribing pilot in five GP practices in Reading (Tilehurst, Western Elms, London Road, Kennet and the Walk-in Centre).  We use the Wellbeing Star to help a patient explore the aspects of their life which are having a negative effect on their wellbeing (e.g. social isolation, lack of support for health condition, low esteem).  With the support of the Social Prescriber, the patient  identifies the aspects they want to change, and is given details of activities and support offered by voluntary and community groups to help them.

Already, patients are reporting improvements to their wellbeing and have given positive feedback on the project.

  • “The well-being star helps to indicate where you are. Helps to work on the areas you have such as low self-esteem.”
  • “It’s good to find a non-medical person that one could talk to who could bounce you around ideas. She came up with suggestions and prompted me to look more widely. I was encouraged to do things which I had left behind.”
  • “Just talking through my stress with you has helped me realise that my issues are mainly focused on work. If I can sort this out, everything else should fall into place.”
  • ” If I hadn’t come to see you I would have been in worse situation. I feel 90 % of my issues have been addressed coming to see you. You gave me directions; I know where to contact if I need help.”

If you are interested in finding out more about RVA’s Social Prescribing project, please contact Sarah Morland  (