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What the National Framework for Social Prescribing means for the sector

Published: 09/01/24 | Categories: Influencing, Author: Carolyn Wallace

Professor Carolyn Wallace, Director of the Wales School for Social Prescribing, reflects on the recent launch of Welsh Government’s National Framework for Social Prescribing.


Social prescribing is a relationship-based approach which connects people to community support. It consists of three parts, referral to a prescriber (for example a GP or Community Connector), describing what social prescribing actually does, and the community assets (including community centres, voluntary organisations and the people themselves). Social prescribing itself comprises conversation, action planning, signposting/onward referral, and monitoring and reporting of outcomes. It requires multiple organisations to work together to ensure a coherent social prescribing pathway.

Key messages came from Lynn Neagle MS, Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Nicola Evans, Welsh Government’s Head of Health Inequalities and Healthy Communities. They were that social prescribing can make a real difference to people and services, that we have all worked closely together to develop an evidence-based framework which will help us to deliver social prescribing to a high standard, and that social prescribing is a real movement growing year on year not just here but across the world.


In December 2023, 433 people interested in social prescribing joined an event to hear about the launch of the new Welsh Government National Framework for Social Prescribing. They came not just from Wales but from as far afield as Singapore, Australia and Canada to listen, share their experiences, and to reflect on what we’ve been doing here over the past couple of years to understand what exactly social prescribing means in Wales – and how we are going to grow and practice it in the future.

The event was divided into three themes: developing social prescribing, policy into practice and experiences of social prescribing. It was successfully and enthusiastically chaired by Clair Swales, Chief Executive Office at PAVO.


The Framework itself has five core objectives, with a developing toolkit, including a Glossary of Terms, a competency framework and case studies. The Glossary of Terms (presented by myself and Dr Amrita Jesurasa) will help us to develop a shared understanding of the language used across sectors, improving communication. The work on the Glossary of Terms has been led by Dr Simon Newstead. It is an interactive document and website, with 36 suggested terms and over 400 non-core and core terms.

To support the workforce and its development, Krysia Groves from Health Education and Improvement Wales presented the new competency framework and gave an insight into a planned programme or training courses and resources. We also heard case studies from Dr Jesurasa and lived experiences from the Welsh National Opera and the Wildlife Trust.

There is further work to be done over the next year, including a communications programme, guidance on the national standards, an exploration of the use of technology, a core dataset and a national specification.


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