This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

NHS England will fund 1,000 social prescribing workers to support practices

Primary care networks will be supported by 1,000 social prescribing workers by April 2021, under plans due to be approved by NHS England this week.

The plans for personalised care provision will see each network have access to a social prescriber link worker, whose salary will be fully funded by NHS England.

The workers are being recruited to help patients find suitable activities that are a better alternative to medication, NHS England said.

As first revealed by Pulse, GP practices will be mandated to join primary care networks - covering between 30,000 and 50,000 patients – in return for the NHS long-term plan funding boost, which will see primary and community care get an extra £4.5bn by 2023/24.

The social prescribing link workers were first announced by health secretary Matt Hancock last July, when he pledged a £4.5m investment towards social prescribing schemes.

In the statement today, NHS England said: ‘The NHS long-term plan will see GPs surgeries big and small work to support each other in around 1,400 primary care networks covering the country, with each network having access to a social prescriber link worker and NHS England agreeing to fund their salaries in full.

‘By 2023-24, social prescribers will be handling around 900,000 patient appointments a year.’

‘NHS England plans to recruit 1,000 social prescribing link workers’, it added.

NHS England’s acting medical director of primary care Dr Nikita Kanani said recruiting social prescribers will be a ‘priority target’ of the Government's personalised care plan.

She said: ‘We will be recruiting a substantial number of people to support GPs over the next five years, to help ease the workload and pressures that we know general practice is under. But we see the network of social prescribers as a fundamental change to the way primary care operates and vital to the future.

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said it was vital, ‘now more than ever’, that patients are able to see the right health professional within a reasonable timeframe.

He added: ‘The BMA has long-backed social prescribers supporting the general practice team, and this commitment to roll them out across the country is very welcome.’

A version of this article was first published by Pulse's sister title Management in Practice.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Anyone else remember Exercise on Prescription? That didn't work either.

    Predictably the BMA has no interest in asking awkward questions such as will GPs be expected to house these people for free, and how much NHS England are offering to compensate for the extra work this scheme will generate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Uncosted work a no from me.Let the punters self refer.Oh they can already but do not.doomed to failure.Ill thought out rubbish.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How about we all accept that the medical profession's paternalistic, dis-empowering attempts to portray every social ill as a "disease" has failed (looking at you Royal Colleges and second rate academics),and has nearly destroyed the NHS as a result. Put these link workers somewhere else ,with a citizens advice bureau as well , and leave us to get on with real medicine , not some Open University social anthropologist drivel.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It is doomed to fail. The patients can already go to gyms and dieting classes but how many actually turn up and follow the advice.A free service will be abused.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Put them in Weatherspoons and the JobCentre

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say