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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

October 2020


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


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


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


The agenda:


  • Assessing the progress of rolling out social prescribing in England and the sector response to COVID-19
  • Developing the social prescribing workforce - integration and training
  • The role of social prescribing link workers as part of a Primary Care Network in the COVID-19 response
  • 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:
    • Priorities for patients - 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

A scan of relevant developments:


  • The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP)
    • launch - set up by government and backed by £5m in funding, with the aim of increasing provision of social prescribing in England
    • improving wellbeing following the pandemic - recently announced projects including football, the arts and improved green spaces
  • Tackling obesity - a focus on GP prescription of exercise and social activities in the Government’s strategy
  • Access - the ambition for social prescribing on the NHS to be available as readily as medical care for every patient in the country set out by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • The loneliness strategy - a continuing government commitment, with social prescribing as a key part and 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
  • The workforce - funding being provided for the five-year GP contract to increase the workforce for social prescribing

Areas for discussion:


  • The COVID-19 crisis - and what is being learned that can be taken forward, including:
    • the role played by social prescribing and link workers - including mitigating psychological and physical impacts of social distancing measures
    • how service delivery adapted - the use of technology and other innovative approaches to support mental and physical health
    • inequalities that were highlighted by the pandemic - including those affecting people without digital access, and its consequences for user groups that are often already isolated
    • increasing social prescribing capacity during the crisis  - effectiveness of NHS England guidance aimed at link work and local community networks in supporting people at the highest risk
    • future needs - what longer term extra support and capacity may be required to mitigate the impact of social distancing and similar measures needed in the face of the COVID-19
  • Priorities for the workforce
    • developing the role of social prescribing link workers in the multi-disciplinary teams for primary care networks
    • the increase in funding for social prescribing roles in the five-year framework for GP contract reform aimed at creating over 20,000 additional posts across five specific primary care roles, including social prescribing link workers
    • the inclusion of social prescribing link workers in the requirements for primary care networks (PCN) under the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES) Contract Specification, meaning PCN’s must directly employ or sub-contract the provision of service for social prescribing link workers
  • Next steps for the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) - how it should approach its goals in:
    • setting standards - and improving the quality and range of social prescriptions available to patients across the country
    • the evidence base - priorities for the research base and for engagement  in championing the benefits of social prescribing
    • best practice - strategies for its development and sharing, as well as looking at new models and sources of funding
    • coordination and engagement - bringing together partners from health, housing and local government with arts, culture and sporting organisations to maximise the role of social prescribing
    • training and accreditations - the way forward for development
  • Commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan
    • assessing progress -  expanding 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
  • Rollout - challenges and practicalities of all local health and care systems having social prescribing schemes in place by 2023
  • Impact so far - early indications from the social prescribing projects in England that received a share of the first round of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Health and Wellbeing Fund
  • Environmental dividend - what is needed to maximise 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

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; HM Treasury; the DCMS; Defra; the DWP; the Government Legal Department; and the Government Legal Service.


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



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles