The Government has invested nearly £4.5m into programmes to refer patients to community services such as walking clubs or arts activities.
Known as ‘social prescribing’, the aim is to improve patients’ wellbeing by recognising that health is affected by a range of social, economic and environmental factors.
A UK study found that after three to four months, 80% of patients referred to a social prescribing scheme had reduced their use of A&E, outpatient appointments and inpatient admissions.
A total of 23 social prescribing projects in England will receive a share of the funding, which will come from the Health and Wellbeing Fund.
The projects will be fully funded through the scheme in their first year. Additional joint funding from local commissioners will be agreed for the subsequent two years.
‘The voluntary and community sector has such a vital role to play in working with our health system to provide the kind of support that you can’t receive at your local GP surgery or hospital,’ said care minister Caroline Dinenage.
‘This new funding will mean that many more people receive support that looks at their needs holistically, enabling them to live happier, more independent lives.
‘I look forward to seeing these projects put their plans into action and provide support to hundreds of thousands more people.’
To read more on this topic check out our feature, 'How social prescriptions are shaping the future of community healthcare.'