Social prescribing

Social prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with sources of support within the community. It provides GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and well-being.

While there is no widely agreed definition of social prescribing, or ‘community referrals’, reports on social prescribing include an extensive range of prescribed interventions and activities.

Visit our wiki-style resource for social prescribing and self-care for the latest evidence and participate by sharing your knowledge

People are living longer and as they get older, developing long term health conditions. Their health is affected by a wide range of factors including employment, housing, debt, social isolation and culture. These factors are not amenable to traditional health interventions. The NHS England Five Year Forward View calls for a radical upgrade in prevention and public health, and greater engagement with people and communities to harness the energy and potential they have.

Social prescribing presents the NHS and local authorities with an opportunity to do this. It helps people to make use of existing community services, resources and facilities which can help them manage or overcome these social factors. Social prescribing can help to improve the health of local people, the quality of care and services, and productivity as part of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).

Use our online resources

We have published a guide to help London's commissioners take the first steps towards implementing social prescribing; a companion guide to implementing self-care locally; plus a live wiki-style resource for social prescribing and self-care where you can find the most up-to-date evidence and resources for encouraging self care locally. 

Visit our wiki-style resource for social prescribing and self-care for the latest evidence and participate by sharing your knowledge.

Download our London guide to implementing social prescribing locally  |   Download our London guide to supporting self-care locally