Social prescribing is a term used with increasing frequency to describe the process of enabling healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker, to co-design a non-clinical social prescription to improve their health and wellbeing.1 Original descriptions of social prescribing involved three components to a scheme: a referral from a healthcare professional, a consultation with a link worker and an agreed referral into the third sector.2–4
Social prescribing has developed to incorporate referrals into the arts, the natural environment, reading on prescription schemes and schemes to support health behaviour changes especially for long-term conditions. Other social prescribing schemes work to develop community cohesion such as time-banking, or address the social determinants of health by providing support for welfare, debt advice, housing and employment. In recent years, social prescribing has emerged as a strategy for tackling health inequities through partnerships between primary care and third sector organisations, and augmenting standard health and social care services. In practice, social prescribing provides an architecture to allow a person to move between professional sectors into their community; this was recently recognised in the General Practice Forward View which listed social prescribing as one of the 10 high-impact actions.5 Social prescribing is, therefore, able to address physiological, physical, psychological, psychosocial or socioeconomic issues, as well as enhancing community wellbeing and social inclusion.