A new service set up to address social problems in Wolverhampton is successfully tackling issues such as loneliness, researchers have found.
Wolverhampton Social Prescribing Service, which was launched by the city's Voluntary Sector Council in 2017, is helping hundreds of people access vital support.
The University of Wolverhampton's Institute of Community Research Development (ICRD) was commissioned to conduct an independent evaluation of the organisation and make recommendations for the future.
They found that the service, which provides a link between primary care services and voluntary and community organisations for those with non-clinical issues, is highly regarded.
Participants reported a positive impact on mental health, wellbeing, confidence, self-esteem, and even physical health for those who had been referred.
Dr Nahid Ahmad, a health psychologist and former Deputy Director of ICRD, and Research Fellow Dr Rachel Massie led the evaluation.
Dr Massie said: "Social prescribing services are growing nationally and helping to reduce pressure on health services and resources.
"Our findings showed that users and stakeholders are overwhelmingly positive about the Wolverhampton service, and we also identified potential cost savings to primary care services."
She added findings relating to a reduction in primary care health use for service-users who frequently had appointments with GPs and practice nurses were statistically significant for national NHS targets.
The researchers recommended further awareness-raising activities, quarterly progress reports and better communication to service users around the nature of the service and wider access, as well as improved data capture.
The ICRD was commissioned by the Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, which helped set up the service, to conduct the evaluation. The most common reasons for referral were loneliness and low-level mental health conditions.
The full social prescribing report can be found on the Inequality and Social Analysis focused webpage; https://www.wlv.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/icrd/research-projects/inequality-and-social-analysis/
Date issued: Tuesday, 21 May 2019