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Tue 08 Nov 2022

Proposals for a National Framework for Social Prescribing

By Greg Pycroft, Policy and Public Affairs Manager


The Welsh Government has been consulting on its proposed National Framework for Social Prescribing. Over the past couple of months, we have been engaging with the consultation process, contributing to webinars and workshops conducted by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (the WCVA) and by consultants employed on behalf of the Government.

We also compiled our own response, drawing on the range of support services we provide and the years of experience providing them in communities up and down Wales.  The support services we provide, only made possible because of the generous support of the people of Wales, fall within the proposed definition of “social prescribing”.

The Framework defines social prescribing as “connecting citizens to community support to better manage their health and wellbeing”, while this encompasses many of the services and support we offer, in our response to the Welsh Government we caution that the use of the medical word “prescription” might put many people with cancer off from seeking support. We hope further consideration is given to the ways in which social prescribing is communicated to the public.

The Framework identifies & describes five “referral pathways” for accessing support in the community. While we welcome the model – Wales needs leadership, investment, and cultural change across health, care and other statutory services to embed into common practice.

It’s widely accepted that people with unpaid caring responsibilities might not identify as “Carers” – they’re husbands/wives/children/friends, people they care about and care for. They may not self-refer to have carer assessments and as a result their needs are not identified and assessed.

Similarly with social prescribing, people might not consider themselves in need of a “social prescription” - creating a barrier to self-referral. Members of the public may need further information and support to access their local social prescribing scheme. This might need additional research to better understand the issue and could be delivered on a once-for-Wales basis. 

The consultation was wide ranging, asking for contributions concerning the social prescribing workforce, the use of digital technology and the role of the Welsh language. Skilled, committed leadership and investment should help with the development of sustainable support services and deliver the cultural and process changes needed to ensure referrals based on need.

However, the 20th October deadline for comments concerning the framework does not signal the end of engagement. We look forward to working across the health, care and voluntary sectors to ensure that what is proposed supports people affected by cancer across Wales well into the future.

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010