Westminster Health Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Next steps for social prescribing in England - commissioning, scaling up, supporting community and vulnerable groups, and learning from COVID-19 crisis

Morning, Thursday, 17th September 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess the progress and next steps in rolling out social prescribing across England.

Main areas for discussion are highlighted just below - but of course we expect discussion on the day to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of social prescribing and community services, and those delivering and receiving them.

Delegates will consider what is being learned during the crisis that can be taken forward, including:

  • the role played by social prescribing and link workers in the response to COVID-19 - including mitigating psychological and physical impacts of social distancing measures
  • how service delivery has adapted during the pandemic through the use of technology and other innovative approaches to support mental and physical health
  • inequalities affecting those without digital access and its consequences for user groups that are often already isolated
  • the effectiveness of NHS England guidance aimed at increasing capacity during the pandemic in social prescribing link work and local community networks to support people at the highest risk
  • what extra support and capacity may be needed in the future to address concerns about the impact of measures introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in longer term

Beyond the impact of the pandemic - key areas for discussion:

  • How the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) should approach its goals in:
    • improving and standardising the quality and range of social prescriptions available to patients across the country
    • championing the benefits of social prescribing by building and promoting the evidence base
    • developing and sharing best practice, as well as looking at new models and sources of funding
    • bringing together all partners from health, housing and local government with arts, culture and sporting organisations to maximise the role of social prescribing
    • the development of training and accreditations across sectors
  • Assessing progress in meeting commitments set out in the NHS Long Term Plan to expand social prescribing across England, in the context of wider key areas of focus laid out in the plan, including:
    • reducing health inequalities
    • its wider impact on environmental sustainability
    • delivering community based care
    • increasing local accessibility
  • The challenges and practicalities of all local health and care systems having social prescribing schemes in place by 2023
  • The impact of the 23 social prescribing projects in England that received a share of £4.5m from the first round of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Health and Wellbeing Fund
  • The role of social prescribing in meeting the target of carbon neutral GP surgeries by 2030 as outlined in the BMA’s recently published report

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) - set up by government and backed by £5m in funding, with the aim of increasing provision of social prescribing in England
  • Access to social prescribing on the NHS as readily as to medical care for every patient in the country - set out as an ambition by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • The loneliness strategy - for which social prescribing forms a key part, as a continuing government commitment with the Loneliness Annual Report recently published
  • The APPG for Longevity’s new longer, healthier lives strategy - and its expected support for social prescribing ventures
  • Funding - being provided for the five-year GP contract to increase the workforce for social prescribing, with discussion expected on how it has been used and the progress made

The agenda:

  • Assessing the progress of rolling out social prescribing in England and the sector response to COVID-19 - with Dr Michael Dixon, National Clinical Lead, Social Prescribing, NHS England
  • Developing the social prescribing workforce - integration and training - with Catherine Wills, NHCP Assistant Director, Workforce, Northamptonshire CCGs
  • The role of social prescribing link workers as part of a Primary Care Network in the COVID-19 response - with Christiana Melam, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Link Workers
  • Commissioning of social prescription and implementation of personalised care - supporting mental and physical health in local communities
  • Assessing effectiveness and quality - evaluation of outcomes and next steps for developing the evidence base
  • Promotion, community support, patient engagement and delivery of social prescription:
    • Prioritising patient care - access, variation and reducing inequality
    • Putting prescription into practice - the referral process and partnership with service providers
    • The role of technology and innovation in social prescribing during the COVID-19 Pandemic and in facilitating self-management of care
    • Collaborative Practice: a sustainable approach to Social Prescribing
    • Scaling up innovation and supporting best practice
  • Long-term goals for establishing best practice, scaling up and the sourcing and allocation of funding - with James Sanderson, Chief Executive, National Academy for Social Prescribing and Director of Personalised Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one looks to be no different. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Health and Social Care; the DWP; the Government Legal Department and the Government Legal Profession.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Dr Michael Dixon

National Clinical Champion Social Prescribing, NHS England; Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network , Chair Social Prescribing Institute and Chairman, College of Medicine

Keynote Speakers

James Sanderson

Chief Executive, National Academy for Social Prescription and Director of Personalised Care at NHS England and Improvement

Dr Michael Dixon

National Clinical Champion Social Prescribing, NHS England; Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network , Chair Social Prescribing Institute and Chairman, College of Medicine

Catherine Wills

NHCP Assistant Director, Workforce, Northamptonshire CCGs

Christiana Melam

Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Link Workers


Rt Hon the Lord Howarth of Newport

Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness

Baroness Pitkeathley

Chair, President, National Council for Voluntary Organisations


Dr David Smart

Clinical Director, Prevention and Mental Health, General Practice Alliance

Alyson McGregor

National Director, Altogether Better

Dan Lyus

Director of Partnerships, South West Academic Health Science Network

Dr Bogdan Chiva Giurca

NHSE National Champion, Social Prescribing and Collaborator, Harvard Global Health Institute

Stephen Critchlow

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Evergreen Life

Sarah White

Head of Policy, Sense

Naomi Phillips

Director of Policy and Advocacy, British Red Cross

Sheena Asthana

Professor of Health Policy, School of Law, Criminology and Government, University of Plymouth