Social work leaders have supported NHS plans to recruit an extra 1,000 health-based workers to prescribe social activities to people, despite frontline concern that such work should be carried out by social care professionals.
Chief social worker for adults Lyn Romeo said the social prescribing link workers would not displace social workers and represented a welcome embrace of the social model of care by the NHS. The move also won the qualified backing of the Adult Principal Social Worker Network.
NHS England last week announced it would fund the recruitment of an extra 1,000 link workers by April 2021 as part of plans to personalise care across the NHS. It said the link workers would help connect patients with community groups and agencies for practical and emotional support for issues, including loneliness, mental health problems and complex social needs.
The policy was set out last week as part of a plan to implement ‘universal personalised care’ across the NHS.
This was published alongside a five-year framework for GP services, which set out that funding for the link workers would be given to primary care networks (PCNs), within which the link workers will be based. PCNs consist of groups of GP practices, serving populations of 30,000 to 50,000, but are expected to also include or have links with community health providers and social care.