Evaluation of the Doncaster Social Prescribing Service: Understanding Outcomes and Impact

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Bennett E, Dayson C

Year of Publication:

Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research

Publication Type:


This report provides the main findings of an evaluation of the Doncaster Social Prescribing Service to better understand the outcomes and impact.
Social prescribing is a catch-all term for non-medical services and referral pathways developed as part of publicly funded health and social care services. It aims to prevent worsening health for people with long term health conditions and reduce the number and intensity of costly interventions in urgent or specialist care. Social prescribing works by enabling GPs to link patients with sources of social, therapeutic and practical support provided by voluntary and community organisations in their local area.

Between August 2015 and July 2016 more than 1,000 local people were referred to the Social Prescribing Service by their GP, community nurse or pharmacist. Following these referrals 588 people engaged with a range of voluntary, community and statutory sector services for the first time. The Service was accessed by more women than men, and a majority of clients were aged over 60. Social Prescribing also supported significant numbers of people with a disability and caring responsibilities.

The Social Prescribing Service appears to have had a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing: almost half of the people referred to the service saw an increase in their health related quality of life (HRQL), and the evaluation also identified improvements in people’s, social connectedness and financial well-being in the 3-6 months following their engagement with the Service.

In health terms, the Social Prescribing Service is estimated to have led to an additional 91.7 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) in the 3-6 months following engagement. This provides a cost per QALY of £1,963; much lower than the NHS cost-effectiveness threshold of £20,000-£30,000. This QALY gain equates to health benefits worth £1,834,000 and means that for every £1 of health and social care funding spent supporting vulnerable people, the Social Prescribing Service produced more than £10 of benefits in terms of better health, at least in the short term.

Evidence Type: Case Study

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Outcome Evaluation

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Dayson, C. and Bennett, E. (2016). Evaluation of the Doncaster Social Prescribing Service: Understanding Outcomes and Impact. Sheffield: CRESR, Sheffield Hallam University.