Proposals to bring a county-wide social prescribing service to Northamptonshire have moved a step closer after business plans received unanimous local support.

Social prescribing is a way of helping people to manage their own mental and physical health and wellbeing by referring them to non-medical services in their local community.

Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership is working to develop a social prescribing model for the whole county, and the governing bodies of Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Groups voted overwhelmingly to support NHCP’s business case at their latest meeting in August.  They were also unanimous in their agreement that social prescribing should be a top priority for CCG funding.

NHCP has already secured agreement in principle for funding from the Government’s Life Chances Fund for the proposed social prescribing service – and now negotiations will continue to unlock this funding and get the project off the ground.

The business case for social prescribing was developed through engagement with the public, potential service providers and health and care professionals at three community workshops held around the county in June.

A full report detailing outcomes from the events will be published soon, but some of the key common themes which emerged are summarised below.

Listening to your feedback

• Social prescribing work is already happening in pockets around Northamptonshire – it’s important to learn from what is being done well

• Social prescribing should become ‘business as usual’ for the county and not just another project

• The service should invest in the infrastructure of social prescribing, including those providing the services, to ensure there’s capacity to meet demand

• The recruitment of link workers to Primary Care Networks should be used as a springboard for the county-wide service

• There must be clarity around funding, expectations of providers, routes of referral and the approach to measuring impact as part of the project plan

• Accessibility of services must be properly considered – including transport for those living in rural areas

• Good communication will be crucial to the success of Northamptonshire’s social prescribing service

This work responds to the ‘Engagement’ category of our community’s Big Ideas for the future of local health and care