What is social prescribing?

Social prescribing is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other health and care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.

The NHS Long Term Plan for England committed to building the infrastructure for social prescribing in primary care as part of the wider approach to personalised care.

Six components of personalised care


  1. Shared decision-making
  2. Personalised care and support planning
  3. Enabling choice
  4. Personal health budgets
  5. Supported self-management
  6. Social prescribing and community-based support

Social prescribing is a way of linking people with activities and support in the community. Social prescribing schemes can involve a variety of activities which are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. GPs and other agencies can refer people to social prescribing link workers who are funded through Primary Care Networks (PCN), and either employed by the PCN or by another agency, such as a local voluntary sector organisation.

The link workers, through shared decision making and personalised care and support planning, give people time to focus on what matters to them so they can take greater control of their own health. It works well for people with long term conditions; people who are lonely or isolated and people who have complex social needs linked to well-being.

The support that people receive is dictated by the emphasis that each PCN focuses on and whether they are employed by a PCN or by a voluntary sector organisation. The support that link workers can signpost/refer to include: volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports.

Social Prescribing in Derby and Derbyshire

The Derby & Derbyshire Social Prescribing Advisory Group (SPAG) was formed in April 2019 to support social prescribing activities across Derby And Derbyshire. Its membership is wide ranging and consists of:

  • CCG Officers – with Louise Swain as Chair
  • Derbyshire County Council Public Health – with Sara Bains as vice Chair
  • Citizen Ambassador
  • Representation from: link workers, link worker providers, link ​worker managers, VCSE infrastructure, primary care, adult social care, Derby City public health, Derbyshire Community Health Services, JUCD, medicines management, CCG directorates, Personalisation Board,   Integrated Community Place Board, regional NHSE/I.

Developments from June 2019

  • Local plan in place 2019 – developing the foundation and strong network
  • PCN recruitment of social prescribing link workers from July 2018
  • Embedding and Integrating PCN SPLW with existing related provision 2019-20
  • Increasing capacity 2020-23
  • Ambitions achieved 2024.
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