Dr Polley explained that social prescribing is about supporting people’s non-medical needs to, at the same time, reduce pressure on NHS services. Patients can be referred to link workers, non-clinical individuals trained to listen and build trust so they can identify what support a patient needs.
Talking about the different activities patients can engage in, Dr Polley said: “You’re with people that are also interested in the same thing you’re interested in so naturally you form relationships and connections with people in your community that have always been there and will always be there.”
She also acknowledged that social prescribing is not an alternative to medicine, but instead an additional mental and psychological support that has a positive effect in the physical functioning of a patient, creating a synergistic effect.
Mentioning her research, carried out at the University of Westminster, she shows that the figures indicate a significant reduction in GP surgery appointments, A&E visits and unplanned hospital admissions.
Highlighting the importance of investing in the voluntary sector to preserve effective social prescribing, Dr Polley concluded: “Fast forward 10 years, there will be universal access to social prescribing and it will be embedded within the medical profession, local authorities and social care.”