October saw the launch of a new National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP), to champion social prescribing and the work of local communities in connecting people for wellbeing. Its objectives include exploring new ways of sourcing statutory and non-statutory funding and brokering relationships between different sectors. Given the prevalence of MSK conditions, it is important that social prescribing has something to offer for MSK.
The NHS Long Term Plan includes plans to recruit over 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers by 2020 to 2021, with the aim of 900,000 people being referred to social prescribing schemes by then. In some parts of the country, patients with long-term conditions who have had access to social prescribing link workers have said they are less isolated, attended 47% fewer hospital appointments and made 38% fewer visits to A&E.
The Chair of the NASP is Helen Stokes-Lampard, who as a GP will be all too aware of the importance of MSK conditions to the NHS. ARMA will be working to raise MSK so that link workers understand the importance of MSK and the types of community support, including peer support from patient groups, which can help.
More information on the NASP website.