St Albans doctors now offering social prescriptions to ease NHS pressure

Doctor writing prescription

Doctor writing prescription - Credit: Getty Images/Brand X

A doctors surgery is now offering social prescriptions to tackle well-being problems in a non-medical way.

The Maltings Surgery in St Albans

The Maltings Surgery in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Patients at The Maltings Surgery on Victoria Street can now book in to find solutions for problems that might have physical symptoms but for which a clinical treatment is not the best option.

For example a person who gets headaches due to loneliness could go to the Maltings Social Prescribing and Wellbeing Team and be signposted to suitable social clubs or community initiatives.

Extended 30 minute appointments are run by fully-trained volunteers. The service runs alongside normal ten minute GP appointments.

Practice Business Manager at the surgery, Susan Trounce, said: “The NHS is stretched and being over-stretched there are lots of people who need support that is not always medical.

“We need to look at health in a holistic way - looking at everybody’s medical, physical, psychological, and emotional needs - and this approach ticks all the boxes.”

In its NHS Reality Check Update 2018, the Royal College of Physicians said NHS England statistics showed bed occupancy rates was now at around 95 per cent, ten per cent above the recommended safe level.

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The Patient Participation Group (PPG) at The Maltings helped to set it up after a successful eight month trial last year by winning a £2,500 grant from St Albans district council and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The surgery is working with Citizens Advice to create a comprehensive database of social prescription options.

With 18,000 patients registered at the surgery, it is hoped this new project will help to ease pressure on appointments.

Susan added: “GPs have always been concerned about overall health and wellbeing holistically – not just medical health but also social health and wellbeing - however in a ten minute appointment the doctors tend to focus on medical issues as they do not have time to discuss social issues as well.”

Social prescribing is a national initiative gaining traction with Clinical Commissioning Groups around the country.

Appointments at The Maltings Surgery are available on Wednesday afternoon and Friday mornings - call the surgery on 01727 855500 to find out more.