About the Oxford Social Prescribing Research Network
People’s health and wellbeing can be affected by a range of factors. As a result, there is a growing recognition that some patient needs could be better met by other kinds of support in the community. This is where social prescribing could help.
What is Social Prescribing?
Social prescribing recognises that wellbeing can be influenced by a range of social, economic and/or environmental factors.
It seeks to address people’s needs holistically, empowering them to take more control of their health. It focuses on non-medical needs affecting health or well-being by linking people to local, community groups or organisations (e.g. luncheon clubs, walking groups, cultural activities, debt advice) to help with a spectrum of problems including social isolation, housing issues or unemployment, focused on improving mental health and physical wellbeing.
We have established an interdisciplinary Social Prescribing Research Network to work closely with members of the public, clinical providers, policymakers and other researchers to understand the different perspectives to social prescribing, how patients health and wellbeing can benefit and the mechanisms through which services can be optimally delivered.
How does social prescribing fit in with wider health and care policy?
The NHS long-term plan (2019) marked a step change in ambition by incorporating social prescribing into its comprehensive model of personalised care. One of the six core evidence-based components of this model looks at Social Prescribing and Community-based support. As part of this, the NHSE Social Prescribing team is currently supporting NHS, Health Providers and the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) with social prescribing development.
The Long-Term Plan predicts that by 2023/24, every GP practice in England will have access to a social prescribing link worker and 900,000 people will be referred by then.
In 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care made £5 million available to establish a National Academy of Social Prescribing. The academy was officially formed as an independent charity in 2020, with support from a number of partner organisations, such as NHS England and NHS Improvement and Sport England; it plans to focus on raising the profile of social prescribing, building the evidence base and sharing promising practice. It also seeks to support voluntary organisations involved in social prescribing and explore funding partnerships.
While there is an increasing evidence base for the efficacy of social prescribing – some of which can be found in our research section – there is a need for more robust data and this is something in which Oxford is well placed to become a world leader.
Nuffield Dept of Primary Care Health Sciences
The top ranked centre for academic primary care in the UK, leading world-class research and training to rethink the way healthcare is delivered in general practice and other primary care settings, both across the UK and globally. Integrating evidence and innovation, our main research focus is on the prevention, early diagnosis and management of common illness.
The department is home to 11 of the National Institute for Health Research's 200 most prestigious and prominent researchers.
Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM)
For over 20 years, the Centre's multidisciplinary research team has been dedicated to teaching, promoting and disseminating better evidence to improve health care policy and practice.
With a global reputation for evidence-based medicine research and learning, their world-class international postgraduate programme in evidence-based health care, supports clinicians, students and professionals across all areas of health care, as well as policy makers, patients and the public.
Gardens, Libraries & Museums (GLAM)
Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums house some of the world's most significant collections. They provide important places of scholarly enquiry and serve as the front door to the wealth of knowledge and research generated at Oxford, welcoming over 3 million visitors each year.
GLAM has a well-established portfolio of health and social wellbeing public initiatives, working with groups ranging from older people to refugees and asylum seekers to people on the autism spectrum.