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Social prescribing schemes to be rolled out in Forty Ipswich and Suffolk GPs

PUBLISHED: 17:49 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:21 06 November 2018

The launch of Haverhill LifeLink at the Samuel Ward Academy last year Picture: DAVE GOODERHAM

The launch of Haverhill LifeLink at the Samuel Ward Academy last year Picture: DAVE GOODERHAM


Pressure will be eased on Ipswich GPs as funding for the introduction of new social prescribing schemes is green lighted.

Louise Hardwick talking at the conference Picture: ARCHANTLouise Hardwick talking at the conference Picture: ARCHANT

The schemes look to refer those living with mental health conditions to non-medical prescriptions that help with their general health – like walking groups, volunteering action and social clubs.

The announcement was made at a wellbeing conference held in the Portman Road stadium, where existing social prescribing schemes in Haverhill and Leiston shared their models for success and put on workshops for those attending.

The hope is that the schemes, which will be introduced to all GPs in Ipswich and across East Suffolk, and can ease the pressure on services.

Speaking at the conference Louise Hardwick, head of operations at the CCG called this an “exciting time for Suffolk”.

Doctors Surgeries across Ipswich and Suffolk will benefits from the new schemes Picture: GREGG BROWNDoctors Surgeries across Ipswich and Suffolk will benefits from the new schemes Picture: GREGG BROWN

She said: “Next month Ipswich will have a social prescribing scheme launched.

“38% of GP appointments are made in Ipswich for non-clinical reasons and we want to prevent that.

“Our new three-tier social prescribing scheme will be rolled out in all 40 GP surgeries in Ipswich and East Suffolk.

“It will be a big undertaking but in one to two years we will start to see changes afoot in our GP practices.”

Social prescribing schemes seek to refer those living with mental health issues and loneliness to connectors.

These connectors will then put users in touch with so-called prescriptions like clubs, activities, volunteering schemes or groups. The introduction of new schemes across the county follows the success of the Haverhill LifeLink scheme.

Implemented in August, 2017, the scheme has helped connect hundreds of service users and has already freed up 44% of GP time in the area as a direct result of social prescribing scheme.

Sian Brand, the social prescribing facilitator for the East of England NHS, was keen to talk further about the benefits and aims of the schemes.

She said: “Social prescribing is about reducing pressure and demand in our system. That has to be part of our aims and objectives.

“It is also about easing conditions but also prevention, prevention is better and it’s cheaper.”

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