The Bromley by Bow Centre (BBBC) has been making waves in primary healthcare since it was founded in 1984 by the crossbench peer Lord Mawson OBE. The general practice and the health centre were established in 1997. Labelled one of the first healthy living centres in England, the centre combines a traditional GP surgery with a charity, local authority and public health funded programmes and social care teams to deliver holistic, personalised care for every patient that walks through its doors.
One of the main reasons why the BBBC is considered so revolutionary is its work around social prescribing. Social prescribing is in essence the process by which medical professionals refer patients on to external non-clinical services such as healthy lifestyle programmes,welfare and housing advice, employment support, debt and financial advisors provided by a wide range of organisations. It recognises that health problems may not just have physical causes.
Bromley by Bow is by no means the only area to be practicing social prescribing (Rotherham and Bristol, to name a couple), but it is considered one of the earliest pioneers of the concept.