Additional support available at GP practices

Ahead of Social Prescribing Day, health chiefs are highlighting the wide range of different roles now available at GP practices in the Black Country.

Taking place on Thursday 9 March, Social Prescribing Day aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the impact social prescribing can have on people’s health and wellbeing.
Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs. It enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing.
Your GP practice may refer you to a social prescribing link worker who can connect you with local community organisations including bereavement groups, dementia cafes, art classes, debt management services, physical activity groups and fitness classes.
Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with one or more long-term conditions, those who need support with their mental health, vulnerable groups, people who are socially isolated, and those who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.
The NHS has also created a video to highlight the role of social prescribing, which can be found on YouTube here.
Matt Brookes, a Social Prescribing Link Worker for Brierley Hill and Amblecote Primary Care Network, said: “Social prescribing link workers support people who may be bereaved or have lost a job or lost a sense of confidence. They may be struggling with an illness, having difficultly just finding their way in life or someone who is up against the pressures of life and doesn’t know how to cope.
“We work with the patient and together we find a way forward and identify steps to help process their lives and the way they work. It’s all patient led, and they aren’t told what to do. One of the greatest gifts I give to people is to say, it is ok to feel this way, you aren’t going mad or crazy. And the sense of peace that comes over them is great.
“The role is unique because it isn’t medicine led. It’s a holistic approach which looks at mind, body, and spirit, without trying to prescribe drugs. It encourages patients to become directly involved in their care planning and to take more control of their own health.”
In the Black Country, GP practices are working differently to offer more appointments for their patients. As well as social prescriber link workers, your local GP practice team may include nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician associates, and healthcare assistants, who work alongside GPs to ensure patients see the right person at the right time.
Sarb Basi, Director of Primary Care for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “With demand on primary care increasing, it’s important that we do things in a new way to help improve patients’ experience and access to GP services.
“Our multidisciplinary team approach means we have a range of highly skilled and qualified professionals working together with GPs to deliver high quality support for all our patients.
“If it is most appropriate for patients to see a doctor, they will still be offered an appointment with a GP. However, the GP isn’t always the best person to see. The new roles now available at practices means people may be offered an appointment with a different healthcare professional who will be able to help based on their needs.
“GP practices are working differently, but they are very much open and here for you.”
For more information on the different roles available at GP practices, visit the Black Country ICB website here.