Social prescribing – Rotherham

A model for development – case studies

One of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK, Rotherham Social Prescribing Service is delivered by Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR) in partnership with more than 20 local voluntary and community organisations. Launched as a pilot in 2012, in 2015 it was re-contracted for another three years. It is funded through the Better Care Fund.

Solution overview

The Rotherham Social Prescribing Service is commissioned by NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as part of a wider approach to GP-led integrated case management. At its core, a team of voluntary and community sector advisors (VCSAs) provide a single gateway to voluntary and community support for GPs and people who use services.

The service is especially aimed at users with complex long-term conditions (LTCs) who are the most intensive users of primary care resources. The service receives referrals from GPs of eligible patients and carers, and assesses their support needs before referring on to appropriate voluntary and community sector services. The service also administers a grant funding pot, through which a ‘menu’ of voluntary and community sector activities is commissioned to meet the needs of people who use services.

For further information visit Rotherham Social Prescribing Service

£570,000–£620,000 estimated social return on investment

7% reduction in non-elective inpatient episodes

17% reduction in A&E attendances

Outcomes and financial benefits

A recent evaluation of the Rotherham mode(Dayson et al. 2016) found:

  • Non-elective inpatient episodes reduced by 7 per cent (19 per cent when service users aged over 80 are excluded ); accident & emergency attendances reduced by 17 per cent (23 per cent in under 80). After three to four months, 82 per cent of these people who use services with long-term conditions had experienced positive change in at least one wellbeing outcome area.
  • An initial return on investment of 43 pence for each pound invested in terms of avoided costs to the NHS, and greater returns in the region of £0.83–£1.22 if benefits were sustained, but a drop-off rate of between 20 and 33 per cent each year.
  • ‘The value of people who use services’ well-being outcomes were estimated using financial proxies and techniques associated with social return on investment (SROI) analysis. The estimated value of these benefits was between £570,000 and £620,000 in the first year following engagement with social prescribing: greater than the costs of delivering the service.’