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This blog post from the South West Academic Health Science Network gives an update on our exciting joint work in Somerset and our plans to develop a county-wide social prescribing service. The original post can be found on their website, here.

The Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has given the go-ahead to a proposal from the Richmond Group of Charities to mainstream emotional and practical support from the voluntary and community sector into primary care through models often called ‘social prescribing’ by the NHS.

The Richmond Group presented the proposal as part of their ongoing strategic and practical collaboration with the Somerset STP. This followed a six-month scoping exercise, which was supported by the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN), to explore what an impactful health and care collaboration between the voluntary and community sector and statutory services in Somerset could look like.

The aim is to help progress system transformation – as detailed in the NHS Five-Year Forward View – through collaboration. In practice this means the Richmond Group will now coordinate an outcomes-based collaborative proposal with the STP and the wider voluntary and community sector to the Life Chances Fund to roll out social prescribing at scale across Somerset.

The Richmond Group of Charities is a national collaboration of 14 leading health and care organisations in the voluntary sector. Their programme, ‘Doing the Right Thing’ sets out the steps needed for every GP practice to have access to social prescribing through a number of hubs, by April 2019.

More than 240,000 people in Somerset, about 44 percent of the population, have a long-term health condition and may also have significant social, emotional and practical needs that could benefit from this form of ‘wider support’. The Somerset STP has identified the need to roll out new models of care that extend services ‘beyond medicine’ and tap into the assets of the VCS to support people in a more holistic way to improve their health and wellbeing.

To find out more contact the Richmond Group Somerset Programme Manager aimiecole@mac.com or visit richmondgroupofcharities.org.uk/doing-the-right-thing.