Northamptonshire NHS recruiting Social Prescriber Link Workers to take the strain off General Practices

Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership starts 2020 with a new recruitment campaign to recruit more Social Prescribing Link Workers into General Practices, following a successful campaign in July 2019 when 15 social prescribing link workers were recruited by Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

Northamptonshire is one of the first counties where GPs are collaboratively working together to recruit to these roles. All practices within the county work in partnership in PCNs to support their local population and many are recruiting Social Prescribing Link Workers.

Emerging evidence suggests that social prescribing can improve people’s health and wellbeing and reduce workload for healthcare professionals and demand for secondary care services (hospital and community care that is either planned or urgent/emergency)[i].

Catherine Wills, Assistant Director of Workforce for Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership said, “By offering personalised support, social prescribers assist people that don’t necessarily require clinical treatment, by referring them to community groups and voluntary organisations running a wide range of activities from benefits advice, singing and cooking classes, to sports, gardening and housing help. This eases pressure on GPs. We look forward to receiving applications from individuals who want a new career direction in 2020.”

The key responsibilities of the role include making referrals to a wide range of agencies within primary care networks, co-producing personalised support plans with individuals, their families and carers to enable patients to take control of their wellbeing, live independently and improve their health outcomes.

Taz Shah was part of the first wave of social prescribing link workers recruited in Northamptonshire four months ago, and works across four surgeries, Moulton Surgery, Woodview Medical Centre, Earls Barton Medical Centre, Penvale Park Medical Centre. Taz’s previous roles were in the public sector where she has worked as a Health Trainer, a Stop Smoking advisor and a Weight Management advisor.

Taz says every day is different and because it is a new role everyone is determined that it will be a success.

She explains, “The surgeries have provided me with amazing support. They are happy for me to take the lead and have given me the freedom to develop this non-surgical role.”

Taz joined at the same time as 14 other Social Prescribers who all attended an eight-day induction course over three months. The Social Prescribers meet twice a month for training and connect with each other regularly via email and What’s App to support each other, discuss good practice and issues that arise.

Taz says her role is to be the link between medical and non-medical services across the practices she works with. She explains, “Medical staff identify adults that attend the surgeries frequently. These visits often occur because patients are vulnerable, lonely, isolated, and have mild or long-term health conditions (including mental health issues) and just need somebody to talk to.

“Patients are referred to me, but they can also self-refer. The benefits are that patients get extra time to focus on what matters to them. This takes pressure off and reduces “frequent attendants’ to the surgery and A&E. It also leads to positive outcomes for the patient such as improving their quality of life and emotional wellbeing, reducing levels of anxiety and depression, increasing physical activity and gaining friendship within a community group.  This is great for both patient and medical services.”

She adds, “The exciting thing about this role is as the NHS makes a success of it, more Social Prescribers will come into the system creating a strong network within the community and relieving stress on surgeries and hospitals.”

The deadline for applications is 17th January 2020, with interviews to be held on 22nd January 2020. For more information and to apply click here.

[i] https://nhsproviders.org/topics/delivery-and-performance/the-nhs-provider-sector