SOCIAL prescribing is to be launched by GPs around the Bognor Regis area.
The practice will enable doctors, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer patients to a range of local non-clinical services.
It seeks to involve voluntary and community organisations with activities like gardening, arts and cookery.
The scheme is said to have been a success in the Adur and Worthing areas where 850 people have benefited from social prescription in the 18 months.
News of the imminent arrival of social prescribing in Bognor Regis was given to councillors on Tuesday.
It was included in details of the latest proposals for community care in the NHS given by its representatives to Arun District Council’s environment and leisure working group. The plans feature the continued development of the eight local care networks (LCN) across West Sussex. The Bognor Regis area is covered by the Regis local care network.
Robin Wickham, the council’s group head of community wellbeing, said: “Regis is also focused on developing social prescribing, building on the going local social prescribing model in Adur and Worthing and is about to go live, managed by Age UK West Sussex, working with nine GP practices.”
One of the initial focuses of Regis LCN has been tackling frailty.
“The LCN has been the forerunner for much of the work around fraility, housing its efforts on establishing strong integrated working with multi-disciplinary teams and working with care homes.
“Its focus has been on three core elements of work – integrated frailty at home project, defining the frailty population and collaborative working, and a care home project,” said Mr Wickham.
Rustington GP Dr Mark Lee told councillors the local care networks were seen as a way of tackling the serious problems which the primary care sector of the NHS was facing.
He described the situation as a ‘crisis’ to echo the finding of a study carried out in 2014. It faces the challenges of an ageing population, complex system, funding and workforce.
“The worst of the four things is the workforce, specially in primary care it is very hard to recruit GPs, practice nurses and healthcare assistants,” he said.
An important part of the changes to primary care will be the creation of three urgent treatment centres in the coastal West Sussex area.
Two will be alongside the existing A&Es in Chichester and Worthing. The third will be at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital. This will transform and extend its minor injuries unit to improve access to this type of NHS care. The new centre will be open 16 hours every day compared to the current 9am-5pm weekday times.
A statement from the area’s clinical commissioning group, which funds primary care services, said: “These UTCs will be able to see any patient with an injury and illness that is not life-threatening.
“Patients will be able to go to a designated appointment at the centres by calling NHS 111 first and will also be able to walk in if needed.”