- Posted Tuesday July 23, 2019
I had an appointment with my local GP in January this year and, at the time, I was somewhat annoyed that instead of prescribing me painkillers to relieve my joint pain, he signposted me to an Arthritis UK self-help leaflet.
I obviously smiled pleasantly and left at the end of the consultation, but what he didn’t know was that I was definitely feeling short changed. Doesn’t he know that I pay my taxes and I just want him to fix me?
However, when I had a moment to reflect, I realised that maybe there might be some method in what I perceived as the “madness” of his approach.
Freeing up money for the NHS – and time for GPs
I decided that if I tried the exercises on the leaflet, they could have a more enduring remedial effect. Not only would that be better for me, it could even save the NHS money in terms of repeat medication and further GP appointments when those symptoms re-appeared, as the underlying causes had not been addressed.
Well the outcome was that these exercises, which where really simple and took no more than 10 minutes each day, really did work and have since made a big difference. Enthused by the seeming benefits of taking some personal responsibility for my own health, I then thought about what else I could do.
How we can all make a difference
I am closer to 60 than 21 and at the time of my consultation I had a BMI nearer my age than my shoe size, with a track record of high blood pressure controlled by multiple repeat medications. I decided to see if reducing my BMI could have a positive impact on both my hypertension and the medication it required.
Over the past six months I have used a simple and free calorie monitoring app and consciously upped my activity levels, as well as those of our family dog. I have now managed to reduce my BMI by around 25% and the seeming need for lifelong medication is now either being reduced or reviewed. This is all great news for me, plus I’m now costing the NHS a lot less - money that may be better invested in someone else.
So the purpose of this article is just to say if I can do stuff like this, which is both good for me and for the finances of the NHS, then anyone can.
What are the benefits for GP practices?
Social prescribing has really made a name for itself in primary care recently, with many practices channelling their energies into non-medical related programmes in order to better the lives of their patients.
A ‘Wednesday Wander’ where practices take patients for a lunchtime walk in a nearby park or ‘Knit & Natter’ where patients get together to well, knit and chat are great examples of these sort of activities. FPM has created an article about how GP practice can integrate social prescribing and the many benefits to putting these schemes into action.
Want to learn more about putting Social Prescribing into practice at your GP surgery? Why not get in touch with the Thornfields team on 0333 240 4055 or by visiting the Thornfields website.