Social prescribing across the Herts and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership

Social prescribing is an effective way to boost the health and wellbeing of patients. Herts and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership employs a social prescribing Link Worker to support people to access clinical services more effectively, as well as making transformative and sustainable changes to their health and care.
Dr Marie-Anne Essam is a GP in South Oxhey and is the social prescribing ambassador for the Herts and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.

Oxhey is an area of significant deprivation in South West Hertfordshire and she thinks social prescribing is the best thing to hit general practice in the last thirty years, with many of her patients benefitting from it.

“In the 30 years I have spent as a GP, social prescribing represents the most effective, wide reaching and life changing of all initiatives to date. Sometimes I have no idea of what the underlying reasons are for someone making lots of repeat visits to my surgery. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of one or two social issues that are affecting their health – but this is like seeing the tip of an iceberg.

“A social prescribing Link Worker spends time and expertise which I lack, to explore with the patients the rest of the iceberg, bit by bit. People are supported to use our clinical services more effectively and to also make changes to their health and care that is both transformative and sustainable for them.

“Getting people to engage more with their local community is a key part of social prescribing. And can also be an essential part of neighbourhood empowerment, too.

“Social prescribing changes people and places for the better, and also helps the health and care system to become more efficient as people use our health care services more effectively and become less reliant on emergency appointments.

“It is such a privilege to be a GP at a time where we can appropriately ‘de-medicalise’ aspects of our NHS to the benefit of people, the health care system and clinicians like me.”