Social Prescribing– sometimes referred to as community referral – 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.

Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and take a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support that might involve a variety of activities which are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports.

Social prescribing and community-based support is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to make personalised care business as usual across the health and care system. Social prescribing is one of the 6 components of universal personalised care.

Social prescribing works for a wide range of people, including people:

  • with one or more long-term conditions
  • who need support with their mental health
  • who are lonely or isolated
  • who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

From a GP perspective practice teams should consider those patients that are frequent attenders with often unexplained physical symptoms, social isolation, mental health difficulties, and poorly controlled long-term conditions.

What’s the difference between social prescribing and active signposting?

“Active signposting” schemes generally involve existing staff in general practices, libraries and other agencies providing information to signpost people to community groups and services, using directories and local knowledge. They offer a light touch approach which works best for people who are confident and skilled enough to find their own way to community groups.

Social prescribing is different in that it focuses its support on people who lack the confidence or knowledge to approach other agencies or to get involved in community groups on their own. The personalised support of social prescribing link workers gives people time and confidence to work on the underlying issues which affect their health and wellbeing.

Access the social prescribing e-learning session

This is a bite-sized session to give health and care professionals an overview of social prescribing – including key evidence, data and signposts to trusted resources to help prevent illness, protect health and promote wellbeing.

It is designed to be interactive and easy to use. If you are registered on the e-learning for healthcare site, it will count towards your continued professional development


From April 2020, this role will be reimbursed at 100% on the Additional Role Reimbursement Scheme for PCNs. The Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service – Contract Specification 2021/22 provides reimbursement for three personalised care roles based in PCNs: social prescribing link workers, health and wellbeing coaches, and care coordinators. Supporting information on these three roles can be found in the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES) Guidance 2020/21.


A PCN’s Core Network Practices must identify a first point of contact for general advice and support and (if different) a GP to provide supervision for the Social Prescribing Link Worker(s). This could be provided by one or more named individuals within the PCN.

A PCN’s Core Network Practices must provide monthly access to clinical supervision with a relevant health professional.

A PCN will ensure the Social Prescribing Link Worker(s) can discuss patient related concerns and be supported to follow appropriate safeguarding procedures (e.g. abuse, domestic violence and support with mental health) with a relevant GP.

A PCN must ensure that all staff working in practices that are members of the PCN are aware of the identity of the PCN’s Social Prescribing Link Worker(s).


 There are 3 short mandatory online modules from the Personalised Care Institute; Core Skills;  Shared Decision Making; Personalised Care & Support Planning. See Your learning options (

SPLWs should undertake mandatory training on the Health Education England E-Learning for Health Platform’s Person Centred Approaches Programme, which is 6 hours in length Social Prescribing – elearning for healthcare (

And Health Education England E-Learning for Health Platform’s Person Centred Approaches Programme, which is 5 hours in length, see Person-Centred Approaches – elearning for healthcare (

Once in post, a SPLW will be able to access the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform an NHS England online learning and support community – with Forums, Resources, National Webinar Series & “share and learn” sessions

Here at the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Training Hub we encourage you to join us for a New to primary care induction. We aim to support your local Practice induction by providing a consistent and comprehensive introduction to working in Primary Care. And further regular ongoing training will be listed on our site under social-prescribing-link-workers. When you register you will be able to sign up for regular newsletter updates with relevant training for your role.

And, we are privileged to be working with Care Network to provide an Induction into the Local Voluntary Sector in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, weekly service updates & training opportunities from the local community and voluntary sector which will keep you connected to your colleagues working in personalised care across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

Further Information:

Click the link to find out more about the role of Social Prescribing Link Worker , including job descriptions, case studies and more.

David Lynch (SPLW Cambridge City PCN) interview by the Healthy You Sports team at the City Council. David talks about social prescribing as well as his work as a wellbeing walk leader and mindfulness coach.

Case studies: