CREDIT: This strory was first seen in Cambridge News
A doctor’s surgery may soon be prescribing a new type of treatment – for people who feel lonely, Cambridge News reports.
The national Campaign to End Loneliness estimates between 1,700 and 3,840 people over 65 years old in South Cambridgeshire are lonely.
South Cambridgeshire District Council has come up with a plan to help them, and is proposing to launch a pilot project in a GP surgery.
Under the scheme, a ‘non-medical professional’ would be available at the surgery, and people could make an appointment to come in for a chat.
It is dubbed ‘social prescribing’, and it will be pioneered at the Granta Medical Practices, which serve Sawston, Linton and surrounding villages.
The council set up a task force to look into possible solutions after GPs and other medical practitioners told councillors there was a need to tackle the problem.
A council spokesman said: “The scheme would give the GPs a non-medical referral option so the right type of support can be given to help people who feel isolated to access other services and local groups where people get together and socialise.
“The initiative will cost £17,500 per year to base a non-medical member of staff at the GP surgery. The new post would provide the best support for people who are isolated as well as help free up appointments with doctors for people who need medical help.”
A report on the idea will be discussed by the council’s cabinet by November 16, and if it gets the go-ahead, it is hoped it will get up and running around April next year.
Cllr Sue Ellington, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The facts speak for themselves and loneliness is a really significant problem that we must tackle.
“Lonely people who are socially isolated need the correct support and GPs have seen a rise in the number of people who regularly visit them without a real medical problem.
“This scheme will give them a non-medical referral option that will provide the type of friendly help and support that is needed to get the person connected with people and groups in their community. This has a benefit for everyone.”
Gerard Newnham, business practice manager at Granta Medical Practices, said: “The majority of patients with chronic health conditions inevitably have some sort of social need as well, this maybe lifestyle or practical help such as hand rails, weight management, housing or social integration.
“It will mean we can offer a seamless service to patients, improving their health and lifestyle outcomes and preventing problems deteriorating or leading to other medical complications.”