One Health Lewisham is working with the Primary Care Networks and local stakeholders, including voluntary sector and local authority, to develop a local programme for social prescribing which supports primary care and patients in the community.

What is social prescribing?

Social prescribing is a method of referring people towards non-medical sources of support within the community to help them improve their overall wellbeing. This can include activities like fitness classes, gardening clubs and healthy cooking programmes. Patients can also get support around social issues, such as debt management and looking for employment

Social prescribers (also known as link workers) can support people living with long term conditions so that they can get access to a variety of support from appropriate sources, whilst freeing up valuable clinical time. This can, therefore, reduce demand on already stretched primary care services and allow primary care clinicians to focus on the more complex medical needs of the patient.


Social prescribing and Primary Care Networks

In the Long Term Plan NHS England committed to building the infrastructure for social prescribing in primary care:

  • there will be 1,000 new social prescribing link workers in place by 2020/21, with significantly more after that, so that
  • at least 900,000 people will be referred to social prescribing by 2023/24.
  • This is part of the drive tUniversal Personalised Care that will see at least 2.5 million people benefiting from personalised care by 23/24.

The social prescribing link workers will become an integral part of the multi-disciplinary teams which are part of primary care networks They form one of five additional roles in the five year framework for GP contract reform.


Funding for the new social prescribing link workers became available to primary care networks (PCNs) from 1 July 2019, when the new primary care network Direct Enhanced Services contract was launched

This is the biggest investment in social prescribing by any national health system, and legitimises community-based activities and support alongside medical treatment as part of personalised care.


Lewisham model of social prescribing

One Health Lewisham is working with a digital social prescribing software, Elemental, to support social prescribers across Lewisham. The software helps to scale and measure the impact of social prescribing projects, whilst integrating with other NHS software, so that GP practices can monitor the progress of patients who have been referred into the service.