Social prescribing used regularly by one in five GPs

The vast majority of GPs are open to social prescribing, with one in five practices regularly referring patients to non-clinical services, results from a GPonline survey suggest.

A third of GPs say either they or a GP at their practice has referred patients to non-clinical services, but added that they did not do so regularly, responses to the GPonline survey indicate.

Social prescribing is described as a way GPs can refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to non-clinical services, which are often run by charities.

Out of over 560 GPs to respond, a fifth said they were open to social prescribing but had never done it, while a further fifth would refer in this way if they had more information about available services.

A total of 6% said they did not have time for social prescribing, and 5% indicated they did not believe GPs should be involved in social prescribing.

Comparison to a similar survey conducted by GPonline two years ago suggests the proportion of GPs regularly engaging in social prescribing remains unchanged, while the proportion doing so occasionally has slightly increased from 24% to 30%.

GP access

Social prescribing is one of NHS England's 10 'high impact actions' that it is promoting to help free up GPs' time to deliver more clinical care. NHS England says social prescribing can help reduce demand for GP and other approintments and improve quality of life for patients and carers.

However, many GPs responding to the survey who were undertaking social prescribing warned that it might be difficult to continue providing the service in the current financial climate.

One GP respondent said they had launched a local initiative, but warned it would ‘struggle to continue’ without a promise of further funding.

Another said there was ‘reduced things that the social prescriber can do as funding decreases’.

Others were sceptical of the value of social prescribing. ‘Patients should be signposted to these services without the need for GP involvement,’ said one GP.

Another took a firmer stance: ‘I do not agree with an ever-increasing reliance on charities to fill gaps in services.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

Rocketing workloads created by huge backlogs of cases and continuing COVID-19 disruption...

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

The GP workforce grew by 0.4% in the year to March 2021, but the number of GP partners...

Viewpoint: Patients and GPs are unhappy with access to general practice, what's the solution?

Viewpoint: Patients and GPs are unhappy with access to general practice, what's the solution?

Practices are deluged with work, yet many people still think they are ‘closed’. The...

Start date for COVID-19 booster campaign unclear, vaccines minister admits

Start date for COVID-19 booster campaign unclear, vaccines minister admits

A UK COVID-19 booster campaign could start from September - but could also remain...

BMA demands 'systemic change' after LMC report exposes racism in primary care

BMA demands 'systemic change' after LMC report exposes racism in primary care

Most black, Asian and minority ethnic primary care staff have experienced racism...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...