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Exeter Medicine student, Bogdan Chiva Giurca, organised the first National Social Prescribing Conference

Exeter Medicine student hosts successful first National Social Prescribing Conference

The first National Social Prescribing Conference organised by an Exeter Medicine student has been hailed a resounding success, attracting 80 delegates and featuring keynotes from world leading medical experts.

The conference, organised by Medicine student, Bogdan Chiva Giurca from the University of Exeter Medical School, welcomed medical students and junior doctors from across the UK to learn more about the key role of Social Prescribing in the future of primary care.

Social Prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with sources of support, often using services provided by the voluntary and community sector. It provides GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve physical health, mental wellbeing, and quality of life. The aim is to direct patients to local, non-clinical community services which in term will help them become more confident in managing their own health. Examples include voluntary work agencies, further education, libraries, social clubs, self-help groups, hobby clubs and sports clubs.

Bogdan said: “Organising an event of this scale and a national scheme as a fourth-year Medical student makes me feel proud to be studying at the University of Exeter, especially because the Medical School has always been supportive of new ideas and input from students.”

The conference featured a keynote address by Sir Sam Everington, Chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group. He said: “It was an incredibly inspiring conference, and filled me with massive energy to promote social prescribing. It was such a joy to see people at the beginning of their careers in medicine so full of enthusiasm to better the environment and patient care. It left me with such hope for the future.”

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Vice Chair at the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “It was such a pleasure attending this national conference and meeting so many very bright and enthusiastic students.”

The conference, on Saturday 24 March in London, also celebrated the National Social Prescribing Student Champion Scheme. The scheme was launched last year by Bogdan to enable medical students to get involved in learning about, teaching, and promoting Social Prescribing in their region. Through this, 26 medical students have taught 65 sessions on Social Determinants of Health and Social Prescribing in 26 different medical schools across the UK, engaging with over 1,250 medical students.

Bogdan said: “I believe social prescribing plays an important role in alleviating current pressures and tackling social determinants of ill-health. In a time when the medical model is failing to meet current patient needs, tomorrow’s doctors need to be equipped with new tools that could contribute to the reduction in strain on both primary and secondary care services."

The conference was delivered in partnership with the College of Medicine, Social Prescribing Network UK, the Royal College of General Practitioners and NHS England.

Date: 6 April 2018

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