How you can help new scheme to improve health in Rugby

GPs could prescribe healthy eating or fitness activities
GPs could prescribe healthy eating or fitness activities

Volunteers are needed to take part in a pioneering a new pilot scheme that could involve Rugby residents being prescribed additional support when visiting their GP.

The Social Prescribing scheme is being run by the NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Warwickshire Community And Voluntary Action (CAVA).

Social prescribing offers the opportunity for GPs to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local support services rather than solely issuing medication. This approach has been shown to help improve people’s mental health outcomes, improve community wellbeing and reduce social exclusion.

Rugby’s Social Prescribing pilot scheme will launch next month but volunteer roles have been created to help make it work.

‘Volunteer project navigators’, based at the GP surgeries, are needed to help provide information about possible groups and activities that are available.

‘Volunteer health buddies’ are also being sought to provide support on a one-to-one basis for those who have been referred for up to six weeks.

Carol Kavanagh, volunteering team co-ordinator at Warwickshire CAVA, hopes the scheme will appeal to many people. She said: “Full training and support will be provided and both the navigator and buddy roles are a real chance to make a difference to the lives of the people that will be referred.

“There are a lot of groups and activities that are held across Rugby on a weekly basis and these volunteer roles will help identify what community activities are most appropriate for a patient and provide the support and confidence for patients to take the often daunting step of actually doing it.”

Dr Jeff Cotterill, a Rugby GP and clinical lead for Rugby on the Coventry and Rugby CCG, is confident the scheme will be a success after seeing similar schemes work elsewhere in the country. He said: “National research has also shown that GPs across the country are increasingly keen on the ‘more than medicine’ approach of social prescribing, which typically includes activities from dance classes to knitting groups and cookery clubs.

“I think that in some cases it could make a real difference to a patients’ quality of life. Innovations in medical treatments have transformed life expectancy but they don’t solve everything. Social prescribing is about giving patients more than medicine, introducing new habits to patients’ lives such as healthy eating or joining a walking group.”

A drop-in session for potential volunteers to find out more about the scheme will be held from 10am to 2pm at Benn Hall in Rugby on Wednesday. Alternatively, more information is available by contacting Warwickshire CAVA on (01788) 574258.