• Commissioned by City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group, in partnership with the University of East London and Queen Mary University of London.
  • Implemented across 23 GP surgeries across Hackney and City, London.
  • Aimed to improve the relationship between GPs and the local community, and to improve outcomes for patients.
  • ‘Social prescribing’ coordinators worked to support referred patients to develop a wellbeing plan and referred them to community organisations and activities.

This project involved City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commissioning Family Action to provide a social prescription assessment service in 23 GP surgeries across Hackney and City. The aim was to improve the relationship between GPs and the local community, and to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

Health policies are increasingly concerned with merging health and social care, managing long-term conditions in the community, reducing social isolation and minimising expenditure. ‘Social prescribing’ is a potential solution.

Through this Shine project, GP practices in City and Hackney referred 737 patients to three social prescribing co-ordinators, employed by Family Action, between February 2014 and July 2015. These coordinators assessed individuals’ needs and aspirations before connecting patients to appropriate, mainly non-clinical, community services delivered by 85 statutory and voluntary groups.  

During the project the general health and wellbeing of participants remained stable. Although there were no significant quantitative changes in health outcomes between the intervention and control groups, qualitative interviews revealed that participants’ experience of the intervention was ‘positive’ or ‘extremely positive’. The most common challenge being faced by those participants interviewed was social isolation, which confirmed that the target group was reached. Benefits stated included being involved in local organisations and interacting positively with local people. Several patients described ‘life-changing’ results, often relating to employment and social networks.

Challenges encountered included: the different perspectives and awareness people had about social prescribing, effectively involving the community and voluntary sector in the pathway, inconsistency in GP referral rates and adequately ensuring patients understood the concept of social prescribing.  

Supporting dissemination

This project was given further support through a Spreading Improvement award to help disseminate learning and maximise the impact of the approach through the health service.

Funding was used to create a ‘one stop shop’ for others to access information on social prescribing. The team also ran workshop events to share findings from the original project and invite contributions from other projects and experts in the field.