The evaluation was carried out by Sheffield Hallam University on behalf of Voluntary Action Rotherham, and examined a three-year pilot programme in which GPs were allowed to refer people with long-term conditions to voluntary sector organisations. The report outlines the range of social and economic benefits that social prescribing has brought to the local community.
Social prescribing is a new term for non-medical services that aim to prevent worsening health for people with long-term health conditions. In recent years locality-based social prescribing services have increasingly been developed by health and social care commissioners to provide a mechanism for linking patients in primary care with sources of social, therapeutic and practical support in the voluntary and community sector. In Rotherham, the social prescribing service is delivered by Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR) in partnership with more than 20 local voluntary and community organisations.
The annual evaluation report provides an assessment of the social and economic impact of the Rotherham Social Prescribing Service between September 2012 and March 2015. The results showed a reduction in demand for urgent hospital care, an increase in wellbeing and a range of positive, measurable social and economic benefits.
This information was previewed at the 2015 VSNW Conference in a workshop by Janet Wheatley from Voluntary Action Rotherham - a video of this workshop is available. In the video, Januet explains more about this work and some of the outcomes achieved.