NALW Members’ Back Motions on Accredited Register and Standardisation of Education and Training for Social Prescribing Link Workers

NALW Members' Back Motions on Accredited Register and Standardisation of Education and Training for Social Prescribing Link Workers

Birmingham, UK – [24th May 2024]At the National Association of Link Workers (NALW) Annual Conference today, members in England voted overwhelmingly in favour of two motions aimed at professionalising the role of social prescribing link workers (SPLWs). These motions, brought forward by the NALW Council representatives in England, focus on establishing an accredited register and standardising the education and training of SPLWs.

01. Accredited Register of Social Prescribing Link Workers

The first motion mandates that NALW apply to the Professional Standards Authority to accredit the register of social prescribing link workers. The motion also calls upon NHS England to:

  • Support the development of a Professional Standards Authority Accredited Register by NALW.
  • Mandate individual registration on this register for SPLWs working in NHS England-commissioned healthcare settings.

Furthermore, NALW is tasked with collaborating with NHS national bodies across the four devolved nations to set and agree on educational requirements.

02. Standardisation of Education and Training

The second motion asserts that all training providers delivering higher education qualification courses (level 4 and above) must seek accreditation from NALW or align their qualifications with NALW standards. This alignment is critical for SPLWs to meet accredited registration criteria post-qualification. The motion also calls upon NHS national bodies responsible for education to:

  • Engage in discussions with NALW to review education requirements and competencies.
  • Address Continuing Professional Development (CPD) funding arrangements to support ongoing training and skill development for SPLWs.

‘‘It is important that the regulation of health care roles is proportionate to the risks. Our manifesto sets out the need for regulation to support the successful delivery of workforce plans and maintain public confidence and safety. The PSA’s Accredited Registers programme is a Government-backed scheme for roles not subject to statutory regulation. To achieve accreditation, registers are required to meet our Standards for Accredited Registers through a rigorous assessment process, including our Standard 1 public interest test. Accredited Registers and their practitioners can display our accreditation Quality Mark, which provides the public and employers with confidence in standards of competence and professionalism.

We know that social prescribing is a key part of NHS England’s model of personalised care, and that the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan set out the aim to expand the number of social prescribing link workers. We have engaged with NHS England since 2021 about the potential for voluntary, accredited registration for link workers. We understand that link workers work on a one-to-one basis, with potentially vulnerable service users, as part of wider multi-disciplinary teams. The benefits of accreditation could be to help give assurance to patients, employers and others working alongside link workers about their commitment to demonstrating high standards. We would welcome an application for accreditation, and further discussion with the NALW, NHS England and the Government about the best way to achieve additional assurance for link workers, as a key part of the broader healthcare workforce”. Alan Clamp, CEO, Professional Standards Authority

“The passing of these motions are a testament to the dedication of our members in enhancing the role and impact of link workers within the NHS and for patient care. This decision marks a significant milestone in the professionalisation of social prescribing link workers, ensuring they receive the recognition and support they deserve, improving outcomes for patients. Standardising education and training is essential for maintaining high standards and improving outcomes for patients”. Marie Adams, NALW Council Chair

“The approval of these motions signifies a major step forward for the NALW and its members, ensuring that SPLWs are well-trained, professionally accredited, and equipped to deliver high-quality care. By standardising the educational pathways and creating an accredited register, NALW aims to elevate the professional standing of SPLWs and enhance the effectiveness of social prescribing. We are committed to working with the NHS in delivering on this mandate”. Robert Pettigrew, NALW Executive Board Chair

Notes to editors

  • A copy of the motion is available here
  • The National Association of Link Workers is the professional and representative body of social prescribing link workers
  • For all press enquires please contact media@nalw.org.uk