Changing the conversation about health

How the College of Medicine marked first International Social Prescribing Day

Thursday March 14th marked the very first International Social Prescribing Day, designed to highlight the importance and significance of social prescribing within healthcare and its potential benefits for well-being for people across the world.

Social prescribing is a healthcare model that takes a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing.  For many, the biomedical approach is often unable to address key factors affecting someone’s health such as social and welfare issues.  

Pills only provide short term solutions. Instead, future generations of doctors needs to go beyond pills…

It enables people to be referred to a link worker who will co-design a non-medical prescription (by connecting them with voluntary and community groups or accessing specialist care and advice) to improve their health and well-being.

International Social Prescribing Day marked the first annual international celebration of social prescribing and the response to it was amazing.

On the actual day, some 29.5 million people interacted with #socialprescribingday, with around 11,000 messages and tweets. 11 countries were involved and the hashtag trended #3rd in the UK.

Next generation: Trainee doctors and healthcare professionals at recent the Social Prescribing Student Conference in London

Clinicians, allied healthcare professionals, community groups, voluntary organisations, patients, medical schools, academics, and students across the UK and world will host a series of events and activities across the globe to raise awareness of social prescribing in people of all ages.

Social prescribing has recently been recognised as having a key role in the treatment and prevention of mental health issues, loneliness, obesity and other chronic diseases making it an integral part of the future of NHS England’s Long Term Plan.

International Social Prescribing Day has been designed to celebrate the hard work of practitioners and patients, disseminating and showcasing the benefits of social prescribing and aiming to create a ripple effect from the front line within local communities and expanding throughout the world.

On 14 March 2019 universities, general practices, and hospitals across the UK and in countries across the world hosted awareness stands in cafes and restaurants to raise awareness of the benefits of social prescribing.

Dr Marie Polley, co-founder of The Social Prescribing Network and Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences at the University of Westminster said: “Raising the awareness of social prescribing for professionals and the public is a crucial next step now that social prescribing has been included as part of the future NHS.”

Michael Dixon, co-founder of The Social Prescribing Network and GP said: “Social Prescribing represents an entirely new approach to healing and health that uses the resources within our communities rather than drugs or medical procedures. It has been shown to benefit patients and reduce the demand on hospitals and GP surgeries and will, in future, be a crucial part of ensuring that our health service remains financially sustainable.”

Bogdan Chiva-Giurca, Chair, Social Prescribing Student Champion Scheme and co-ordinator of the International Social Prescribing Day said: “In hospital and during placement, we often observe the lack of support available for patients struggling with loneliness, mental health, obesity and chronic diseases.

“Pills only provide short term solutions. Instead, future generations of doctors needs to go beyond pills. They need to focus on prevention, on social determinants of ill-health and personalised care. I believe social prescribing must become part of the essential clinical toolkit for doctors to come.”