The two core measures of Ways to Wellness’ impact are patient wellbeing improvements (measured using the Wellbeing Star™) and reductions in secondary care costs.

As impact on GP practices does not form part of our core impact measures, we have limited access to GP practice data. But GP practice teams are a critical part of our approach – our Link Workers work closely with GP practices to identify patients who might benefit from the service and to address their patients’ practical, social and emotional areas of need, to compliment and supplement their medical care. We were keen to understand the service’s impact on this part of the health service.

We undertook audits of GP consultation rates in 3 GP practices in 2017-18. GP practice staff measured the number of consultations for each Ways to Wellness patient in the 8 months prior to a patient’s referral to Ways to Wellness and compared that to the number of consultations in the 8 months following a patient’s engagement with the service.

Audit results of 260 patients across 3 GP practices showed a 14% reduction in GP consultations.

Given the difficultly and cost of recruiting some NHS staff, particularly GPs, Link Workers may offer a way of reducing pressure on stretched primary care services.