East London NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health services in the grounds of the Homerton Hospital. Photograph: David Holt

Homerton Hospital in Lower Clapton. Photograph: David Holt

A national charity has launched a three-month partnership with Homerton Hospital in the hope of easing pressure on A&E staff during the busy winter months.

Family Action will support discharged patients by providing them with information about community and non-medical resources where they can seek further help.

It is hoped the Social Prescribing Service, which started this month and runs until March 2018, will reduce readmissions and “inappropriate use of A&E”.

Family Action’s chief executive David Holmes said he is “delighted” to be able to help, adding: “This practical and people-focused service will have a positive impact on patients’ health and wellbeing and will enable them to access a raft of support in the local community.

“It will also help the Homerton A&E team with the extra demand they face during this most busy time of the year.”

The charity says it will link outgoing patients to more than 130 local services that offer support for a wide range of practical and emotional challenges.

This can include help with welfare benefits, housing, food vouchers, grants and counselling services, as well as practical support such as collecting medication and clothing.

A spokesperson for Family Action said: “When appropriate, health professionals will refer patients to the Social Prescribing Service where they will be allocated a link worker or, alternatively, patients can refer themselves.

“All link workers will have a background in counselling, social care or health and will carry out a holistic assessment with the patient.

“Together they will agree a health and wellbeing plan which will include options of activities and services within their local community that can support the patient’s health, wellbeing and continued recovery.”

Family Action is a charity committed to building stronger families by “delivering innovative and effective services and support that reaches out to many of the UK’s most vulnerable people”.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced an extra £350 million in this year’s Budget to help the NHS cope this winter.

It followed warnings from NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts across the country, that more cash was needed to avoid last year’s increased waiting times.

Between December 2016 and February 2017, an average of 86.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, well below the 95 per cent target, and worse than the 89.1 per cent recorded in 2015.

Homerton Hospital has been approached for comment.

To find out more about the Social Prescribing Service at Homerton Hospital, you can email the Family Action team at homertonsocialprescribing@family-action.org.uk or call them on 020 3327 3841

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