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National Voices Report: Rolling Out Social Prescribing

For social prescribing to thrive, it needs a vibrant and sustainable voluntary sector; this new report from National Voices, commissioned by NHS England, is based on feedback from over 300 people representing the perspective of  VCSE organisations.

The report sets out the findings of research conducted by National Voices for NHS England to explore the perspectives and experiences of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in relation to the NHS rollout of social prescribing. They heard from over 300 people through a series of interviews, workshops and online engagements between December 2019 and June 2020.

NHS England has made a significant commitment to ensure that social prescribing is available across the country, including the recruitment of over 1,000 specialist link workers during 2020/21, with more in the pipeline. This was a hugely welcome move, and testament to the work of colleagues within NHS England as well as across the wider health system and the VCSE sector. The commitment represents a major step towards realising the vision in the NHS Long Term Plan of personalised care for all. Social prescribing is increasingly recognised as a vital tool in the NHS’s strategic shift towards population health management. As a bridge between clinical services and the VCSE sector, it can enable people to access individualised help, and support community-based efforts to address the social determinants of health.

The importance of social prescribing has been brought into sharp relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has had a huge impact, with the VCSE sector often at the forefront of local responses. Many social prescribing schemes have reoriented themselves to support people who are shielding, as well as moving to online or telephone delivery of existing services and stepping in where existing community services are no longer able to operate. Alongside huge challenges, lockdown has demonstrated the value of social prescribing in responding to a rapidly changing and complex situation, and coordinating or supporting the community response to ensure that everyone gets the help they need.

To read the report and the recommendations, please click here.