Barking and Dagenham GP’s will be able to quickly and easily deliver a digital social prescription to their patients as part of their standard consultation or appointment as the HealthUnlocked EMIS plug-in for social prescribing will go live across the Boroughs over the coming weeks.

The tool that directs and signposts patients to local services, charities and voluntary sector support, and relevant HealthUnlocked online support communities was developed and tested by HealthUnlocked in collaboration with Care City as part of the NHS England & Office of Life Sciences Innovation Test Bed Programme and has proved popular with both GPs and patients. London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and Barking & Dagenham CCG have agreed to work with Care City to grow its use and transform health and care services in the area for the better.

Since February, the HealthUnlocked solution has enabled over 600 social prescriptions to be issued in eleven practices across Barking & Dagenham. Of these prescriptions, most related to helping patients to get active, eat healthily and lose weight loss and to dealing with anxiety and depression.

The solution will be sustained and extended as part of Care City’s partnership with LB Barking & Dagenham, funded under the Better Care Fund. Most practices will use the tool to send social prescriptions directly to patients – in some cases, this will be mediated by a Link Worker, to whom the patient is referred, for more intensive face-to-face support.

John Craig, Chief Executive, Care City commented: “As well as promoting healthy lifestyles, public services are very conscious that loneliness and isolation can undermining health and well-being, costing services money. Social prescribing tackles these issues head on. This digital approach to social prescribing enables GPs to connect people to the resources that exist all around them – places where they can make friends, get expert help, or both. These digital tools do not replace face-to-face help; on the contrary, they are designed to help people to build the relationships that can make a real difference to their lives.”

Dr Matt Jameson Evans, Chief Medical Officer of HealthUnlocked, and 2015 NHS Innovation Accelerator Fellow, said: “By using digital social prescriptions and opening up support and services to patients, we can give people the tools to a better quality of life, reduce reliance on medications and reduce demand on Emergency Departments and GPs in the NHS. I’m delighted that our collaboration with Care City has extended beyond the initial pilot and is now going to be changing lives across Barking & Dagenham.”

More information about HealthUnlocked is available here.