Social Prescribing Information Standard

For many people, improving their health and wellbeing requires a holistic approach and support by professionals who can help them focus on what matters to them to live well. Social prescribing supports people to understand their needs and connects them to local community (non-clinical), often voluntary, services which can provide the help they need.

ISN released: 16 January 2023

The social prescribing standard has now achieved ISN Status following rigorous quality assurance by the NHS Data Alliance Partnership Board. Find out more about ISN status here.

About this standard

The Social Prescribing Information Standard will enable the sharing and recording of information for the whole patient journey, from initial referral, throughout the period of social prescribing and the message back to the referrer and GP at its conclusion. (See National Association of Link Workers Education Standards).

The standard supports the recording and sharing of information including: 

  • The information required to support the conversations between the link worker and the person
  • Information to support people, show their healthcare is joined up and avoid them having to retell their story multiple times 
  • Information that can be shared with the person themselves, their family or carer 
  • Summary information back to the referrer and GP for the person’s overall record
  • Information for secondary uses, e.g. for understanding the scale and effectiveness of social prescribing services, planning, population health etc.

The standard is UK wide with involvement from all four nations. It was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement and has an important role to play in the English national drive to widen the use of social prescribing to support citizen empowerment and personalised care, as stated in the NHS Long Term Plan.


Scope and how it works

The standard is for all models of social prescribing including those used in local authorities and voluntary organisations in social care or health. The standard has three parts:

  • The referral to social prescribing (unless it’s a self-referral) 
  • The link worker’s record 
  • The message back to the GP and referrer (if different)

Not in scope

  • Social prescribing for children and young people. Their particular needs have not been addressed, but it may work or be usable with supplementary information where required.
  • Information requirements of any local services the person is referred or signposted to, although where appropriate, they would receive a referral from the link worker.

This diagram shows the person’s journey through social prescribing and the information at the different stages of their treatment and care.

Technical FHIR messages will be developed to support the sending of messages to/from the social prescribing service, in the mean-time email letters are recommended. These won’t be required in situations where the social prescribers use the GP systems.

Current release

Release date: 16 January 2023
Version: 1.1

This standard comprises of three sections/scenarios:

– Social Prescribing Information Standard
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– Referral to social prescribing services
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– Message back to GP and referrer
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Provenance Data Standard

Provenance data for this standard is now shown in a separate information model which is explained and available on this webpage, and also explained in the release notes for V1.0 of the Social Prescribing Information Standard. 

Supporting documents

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    (Detailed implementation guidance specific to the sections and elements of this standard are included within the information model)
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  • Information Standards Notice (ISN) – NHS Digital
  • Terminology Framework – Details of the new SNOMED refsets in development for social prescribing are available on request from NHSE: 

Further resources



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Early adopter results

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The social prescribing information standard has been endorsed by the following organisations:

  • National Association of Link Workers
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • Defence Medical Services
  • Faculty of Public Health
  • National Academy of Social Prescribing
  • National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
  • National Voices
  • Patient Information Forum
  • Queen’s Nursing Institute
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal College of Occupational Therapists
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists