Success for UK’s First Qualified Social Prescribers

Social Prescribing Training

A group of link workers from across Yorkshire, Humber and the North East are set to become the UK’s first qualified social prescribers, thanks to a new pilot course that’s been taking place in Wakefield.

The Level 3 qualification course – the first of its kind in the UK – has provided a valuable opportunity for link workers to learn from each other, as well as from tutors and social prescribing experts including Conexus Healthcare, the University of East London and Bromley-by-Bow.

Over 1,000 social prescribing link workers will be in place by the end of 2020/21, working closely with doctors, GP surgeries and primary care networks to offer more non-medical treatments and routes to wellness. These new link workers are just one in a handful of new roles joining GP practices under the NHS’ Long Term Plan published earlier this year.

David Cowan, programme manager from GP group, Conexus Healthcare, coordinated the first cohort of professionals: “It’s been incredible to watch these experienced link workers take their skills and expertise even further. They now have a comprehensive understanding of the national policy underpinning social prescribing, a good grasp of the principles and theory around social prescribing, as well as the very latest best practice resources ahead of the emerging social prescribing workforce. They can now put all of this into their practice to help guide their new primary care networks and support new social prescribers locally.”

Throughout the course, learners got chance to hear from experienced practitioners including the Creative Minds team from South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Wakefield CCG and embarked on field trips to Live Well Wakefield and the Hepworth Gallery.

Dominic, a health and wellbeing coordinator attending the course from East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the course. The different units were interesting and I’ve got a better understanding and knowledge of how social prescribing can work by looking further beneath the surface. There were plenty of practical group activities too which helped with what I do on a day-to-day basis.”

Sarah, another link worker, said: “Today I had a really tough last visit with a couple who have experienced quite a bit of trauma over the last 2 years. Without the things I’ve learnt over the course, I honestly think I’d have struggled to help them make any steps forward. But I was able to put into practice elements of what we’ve been taught in a way I’d never quite worked before.”

Plans are already underway to open enrolment to the next set of Level 3 in Social Prescribing qualification courses from Autumn 2019. Interested link workers can register their interest here.

Debbie Aitchison, chief operating officer at Conexus Healthcare said: “We’re working very closely with our experienced partners, including the University of East London and Bromley-by-Bow, to take this highly desirable course to the rest of the country.

With over 2.5 million more people set to benefit from social prescribing by 2024, primary care needs to prepare and support its link workers with the very latest social prescribing theory and training. As a primary care provider, I’m delighted we’ve been at the forefront of developing the country’s only level 3 social prescribing qualification and can’t wait to see the value this course adds to our national workforce.”

Learn more about social prescribing support from Conexus and its partners.