City-wide team supporting GPs across Newcastle wins social prescribing award

A GP federation's social prescribing service that covers all 31 practices in Newcastle-upon-Tyne has been recognised in the annual social prescribing link worker day awards.

Clockwise from top left: Michael Waugh, the H4All high intensity user service team, Sean Macfarlane and members of the YAP group in Drumchapel

Michael Waugh, who manages the federation Newcastle GP Services' social prescribing team, was named social prescribing manager of the year at the awards, which are run by the National Association of Link Workers.

The service, which was set up three years ago, includes six social prescribers and seven link workers who work across all of Newcastle's practices. The judges said that Mr Waugh, who also works one day a week as a social prescribing link worker, had 'led the development of a service that has made a tangible difference to patients, GP practices, and the community and helped forge a wide set of relationships that help link workers best meet peoples' needs.'

Community group of the year

The community group of the year award went to a young adults project, YAP, based in Drumchapel, Glasgow.

YAP was set up 18 months ago after local link workers identified a gap in mental health services for 16-21 year olds in the area who didn't fit into existing local groups or had been denied access to statutory services and were struggling to engage with their communities.

It provides young people registered with two GP practices in the area with peer-to-peer support as well as the space and support to help increase their resilience, confidence and self-worth. The group is run by two community link workers and because the scheme is linked to the two GP practices it allows for ongoing support and follow up with GPs for mental and physical health issues when necessary.

The judges said the initiative was 'truly inspiring'. The group 'worked creatively and sensitively with both the young people and their families, building up trust and mutual respect,' they added.

Social prescribing link workers

Sean Macfarlane, social prescribing coordinator from community organisation Your Voice in Inverclyde, Scotland, was named social prescribing link worker of the year at the awards.

Mr Macfarlane is one of Scotland's social prescribing champions and the judges commended the way that he had worked with other services to ensure the work of his team complemented existing provision and delivered benefits to local GP practices. This involved setting up a triage system so that new initiatives did not compete with services currently provided by GPs and other primary care practitioners.

The social prescribing programme of the year award went to H4All, a charitable organisation made up of five existing charities in Hillingdon and Hounslow in west London - Age UK Hillingdon Harrow & Brent, DASH, Hillingdon Carers, Harlington Hospice and Hillingdon Mind.

H4All delivers a range of wellbeing a social prescribing initiatives across the two boroughs, however it received the award for its High Intensity User Service which works with frequent A&E attenders.

The judges said that the that by partnership working with GPs, police, ambulance and mental health teams the service had 'shown a marked reduction in the use of acute services and demonstrated impact on individual lives' as well as delivering cost savings for the NHS.

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