Types of link workers: family link worker and GP link worker

A link worker is at the core of the social prescribing workforce. They are often known under different names such as social prescribers, community connectors, navigators, and health advisors. In many cases these names are simply synonyms of one another.

Yet in any role, there’s always a nuance to the responsibilities. This in particular relates to the specific organisation a link worker works for. Though many varieties exist, in this article we wanted to zone in on two specific branches of the link worker profession: the GP link worker and the family link worker as well as two additional roles for social prescribing.

Family link worker

Although social prescribing at the NHS is designed for adults, there are examples available of link workers who do work with children. The family link worker is an example of this. As the name suggests a family link worker is specifically there to offer their help to families.

Family link worker conversation

Family social prescribers work at for example schools or children’s hospitals/hospices. A family link worker offers a form of social care for children and parents or carers of children, and works with these families to find holistic solutions. In addition, a family link worker finds other professionals and services that can offer help for varied situations.

GP link worker

A GP link worker is defined as a link worker who works at a General Practice. These link workers work at a single practice or across multiple General Practices. For the latter, link workers have often been assigned by a Primary Care Network (PCN) to work at General Practices across the PCN’s locality.

Link worker working from home

A GP link worker’s week can be divided in different ways, but often is spread out during the week working for the different practices. This means that one day a social prescriber would be installed at one practice, the next day at the other and so on. Of course, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic more social prescribers have resorted to working from home where time divisions can take place in a different shape.

A struggle for GP link workers, in particular when there is just one link worker for multiple practices, is the high level of responsibility as well as the solitary work it often involves. To many practices the addition of a link worker is a relatively new one and a good place within the General Practice team often still needs to be found. For link workers at General Practices it is therefore of vital importance to receive support for the work they do for patients coming to the practice.  

Two additional roles

In March 2020 two additional fully-funded roles have entered the field as new social prescribing roles have come to the forefront in the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES) under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS). NHS England published its most recent version last March outlining some important rules for the 2020-2021 financial year.


Max. annual reimbursable
amount per role

Social prescribing link worker

£35,389 (up to band 5)

Health and wellbeing coach

£35,389 (up to band 5)

Care coordinator

£29,135 (band 4)

These new roles are the Health and Wellbeing Coach and the Care Coordinator. They offer a great addition to the care package on offer in primary care. With the significant incline of loneliness and isolation that weigh heavy on mental health, these new roles along with the social prescriber may prove to be highly relevant to combat the social effects of the pandemic.

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