A CONSULTATION aiming to improve social prescribing in Wales has been launched.

The deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, has launched a consultation on social prescribing.

Social prescribing connects people to community support to better manage their health and wellbeing.

The consultation will seek people’s views to plan a future framework for non-clinical, community-based support, which can include a range of activities which play a role in an early preventative approach by enhancing people's well-being.

The new framework will set out standards, guidance and actions developed at a national level to ensure consistent delivery across Wales.

 In Wales there has been year on year increase in referrals and use of social prescribing over the last three years.

More than 25,000 people were given social prescriptions in 2020/2021, compared with more than 10,000 in 2018/2019.

Through its early preventative approach, social prescribing aims to ease the pressure on more front-line specialist services. 

Evidence from the University of South Wales suggests that social prescribing reduces the footfall to GP surgeries by between 15 and 28 per cent.

Another study found that patients used primary care services less, with a reduction of 25 per cent in appointments.

Deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, said: “The aim of this consultation is to secure a common understanding of social prescribing and a consistent approach across Wales to its delivery.

“Current evidence shows that there is variation across the country… I want the national framework to embed social prescribing services where they either do not exist or need to be developed further and identify those areas where further action can be taken.”

One centre that delivers social prescribing services in Cardiff is ACE - Action in Caerau and Ely.

They work with local GPs and partners to support people to access activities; work with the community to develop a range of health, wellbeing and support activities; and host other groups and organisations at their community building, the Dusty Forge. 

Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at ACE, Hazel Cryer, said “We would love to see social prescribing grow and develop across Wales through this framework."

One project that partners with ACE is Grow Well, run by local charity Grow Cardiff.

Grow Well Project Co-ordinator, Claire Terry, added: “Having seen the amazing changes that a project like this can make in someone's life, it would be fantastic to see a network of community gardens across Wales connected with health care through social prescribing services.”