An event celebrating Tower Hamlets’ first National Social Prescribing Day was held at Mile End Hospital’s Education Centre.
Social Prescribing (SP) is a service for GPs and other healthcare professionals to help improve patients health and wellbeing.
Sandia Warraich, the GP Care Group Social Prescribing Manager, told Eastlondonlines: “When you go to your doctor you normally get medical help; a prescription for medicine to make you feel better. But sometimes it’s not just a medical problem you have, you have a little issue going in your life that affects your health and wellbeing.”
“You might have problems with housing benefits, general issues that you need help with. And if all the issues were sorted, you would feel a lot better with yourself and your health and wellbeing would improve.”
The patient is then referred to a social prescriber to help with their non-medical issues, which “significantly improves the health and wellbeing.”
Statistics from Tower Hamlets GP Care Group, show the top five concerns reaching SP services are exercise 34 per cent, weight management 24 per cent, social isolation 16 per cent, benefits 14 per cent and housing 10 per cent. Reportedly, their wellbeing increases by about 35 per cent.
The GP Care Group reportedly saves “a lot of money” in hospitals and primary care. This is because when an individuals life is sorted, “their health and well being improves” so are less likely to visit GP practices.
Warraich added: “It’s a win-win situation.”
She believes many individuals go to urgent care centres and A&E when “they don’t need to be there.” So, are looking into having a social prescriber at that end to “encourage a holistic view of people’s needs.”
Asking about their services compared to other boroughs, Warraich felt services at Tower Hamlets were more successful as “we’ve probably had it for longer.”
Their services have access to all their GP practices and a computerised email system to make appointments which allows them to streamline their information.
They are reportedly run by the GP care group, having all their GP practices as members and are “really committed to it”, making “a big difference” according to Warraich.
“Other places they’re working from outside the GP setting and trying to get in to do some work, so you’ll get people from the voluntary sector who are doing fantastic models at different places but it’s harder for them to have full access as we have.”
Their services start from the ages 18+ but are hoping to cover the ages from 0-18, similar to NHS GP Care Groups.