GPs, pharmacists and other healthcare workers will be expected to refer lonely and isolated patients to the NHS’ Check in and Chat service.
The programme – led by the NHS Volunteer Responders programme – will see 1,000 volunteers call patients who are socially isolated, as either a one-off chat or series of conversations.
Volunteers will help patients ‘explore positive changes they could make to their lives’ and will signpost them to community support and other services.
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme has brought back the service – which was first launched in the pandemic – after GPs and their social prescribers suggested their patients were no longer as socially connected as they were before the pandemic.
NHS England said a survey of clinicians and professionals showed nearly four-in-five would use the service, and that nine-in-10 felt it would meet patients’ needs.
Almost three quarters of health professionals who responded to the survey said a refreshed Check in and Chat service would complement existing services.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: ‘It is very easy for GPs, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers to refer patients to the Check in and Chat service through a simple online platform – and we know what a difference a neighbourly phone call can make if you’re feeling isolated or in need of some support.’
And Sir Stephen Powis, NHS medical director professor, said: ‘NHS health teams can refer patients to this fantastic service which offers a listening ear and, where appropriate, explore positive changes they could make to their lives, for example to connect with others, become more physically active or to learn new skills or volunteer themselves.’