In this episode we talk to Professor Stewart Mercer who is a Professor of Primary Care and Multimorbidity at the Usher Institute, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

Paper: Implementing social prescribing in primary care in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation: process evaluation of the ‘Deep End’ community links worker programme

Social prescribing using primary care-based link workers is increasingly promoted across the four nations of the UK and elsewhere in the world, as a way of reducing health inequalities by better supporting people living in deprived areas. However, the evidence-base of effectiveness is limited, and there is very little information on how best to successfully implement a link worker approach in practice.

This study reports on a process evaluation of the ‘Deep End’ Links Worker Programme (LWP) over a two-year period, in seven general practices in deprived areas of Glasgow. Despite the programme being well-funded and well supported, the majority of practices involved had not fully integrated the LWP within the first two years. Implementing social prescribing and link workers within primary care at scale is unlikely to be a ‘quick fix’ for mitigating health inequalities in deprived areas.