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Work Programme: Active NoW

The Programme

Active NoW provides a simplified method for healthcare professionals to refer patients who’d benefit from increased physical activity.

The aim is to support inactive populations, those with identified long term conditions, and those that experience the greatest inequalities, to effectively access appropriate physical activity opportunities. Active NoW has 3 operational elements:

Strategic Development: A work programme which embeds physical activity into pathways and commissioning to increase referrals and tackle health inequalities.  One Point of Access: A single point of access for physical activity referrals for the health system delivered.  Place-based Activity: A local place-based activity approach uses and builds on existing assets within the community.

Doctor and Patient - Impact Report 2

2023-2024 Data Insights

Launched in January 2023, the programme aimed to raise awareness and build understanding within the Primary Care Workforce and integrated into health data systems. Active Norfolk, in conjunction with Broadland and South Norfolk District Council, play a crucial part in implementing the Active NoW initiative, which is overseen by the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System’s (N&W ICS).

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No. of Referrals


(%) of individuals were in the three lowest categories of deprivation


No. of healthcare professional referring patients

Impact Summary

Launched in January 2023, Active NoW has gained significant traction, with referrals observed in all districts of Norfolk.

The co-production of Active NoW has and will continue to be integral to its development and longevity, as multiple stakeholders are needed to access and utilise the ‘building blocks’ required to deliver Active NoW.

Active Norfolk’s role includes strengthening workforce capacity, co-leading governance structures, promoting awareness and integration of Active NoW among health and social care professionals, and incorporating the programme into appropriate pathways and services. Additionally, Active Norfolk have facilitated place-based funding stream. The approach leverages and expands upon existing community assets. Take a look below at some of the major milestones in the last financial year.

The Active NoW model facilitates the integration of physical activity into the health system with input from all partners. It establishes a unified system and access point for healthcare professionals, social care professionals, and the general public. Rather than introducing new resources, it aims to enhance and leverage existing assets and expertise in local place-based delivery.

Through this coordinated and consistent approach, the model yields several positive outcomes and benefits, including:

  • Decreased rates of physical inactivity, particularly among underrepresented groups.
  • Improved health and well-being of residents in Norfolk and Waveney.
  • Reduced prevalence and impact of long-term conditions.
  • Accelerated and improved developments in local infrastructure for delivering physical activity initiatives.
  • Enhanced understanding across the system regarding the role of physical activity in promoting health and positive health outcomes.
  • Increased recommendation and referral to physical activity by frontline healthcare and social care professionals.
  • Transformation of health and care services, facilitating the redesign of pathways to prioritise prevention.

Protect NoW, the Population Health Management approach in Norfolk and Waveney, utilises GP practice data to identify patients at high reversible health risk. Active Norfolk, in collaboration with the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board and with the support of three General Practices, launched the Protect NoW pilot.

The pilot’s objective is to enhance opportunities and eliminate barriers for individuals facing health inequalities, targeting the right individuals without the need for a healthcare professional’s referral. The pilot, which began in November 2022, has achieved positive outcomes, and plans are underway to expand it to West Norfolk in 2023.

The Active NoW programme has been nominated for the HSJ Award, a national NHS accolade that celebrates healthcare service excellence.

The programme represents the first footprint investment into physical activity by the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board.

Historically there had been pockets of commissioning within district council areas, which led to a ‘post code lottery’ in regards to access of services for citizens. By matching workforce capacity and financial resources, we have been able to create a system wide model, with a growth plan, that not only has developed a service in the single point of access offer, but also puts significant funding and resource into community and physical activity regeneration in place and developed a strategic/system leadership model to inform the wider agenda of prevention within population health management.

Core funding for the programme comes from the N&W ICS. In recognition of the alignment with our organisational strategic objectives, we also provide match contribution through workforce capacity, with the programme being built into the workplans of multiple members of staff.

The Falls pathway, introduced in October 2023, empowers both clinical and non-clinical professionals to refer individuals to activities related to falls. Exercise is crucial for this group as it enhances mobility and balance, reducing the risk of falls. Regular physical activity can also improve muscle strength and joint flexibility, contributing to better overall health and independence. Thus, Active NoW plays a vital role in promoting physical activity among those struggling with mobility.

In January 2024, the programme expanded further to include a new referral pathway tailored for patients with a stable Severe Mental Illness (SMI) diagnosis. This pathway is a significant addition, acknowledging the profound impact of physical activity on mental health.

The Active Norfolk Physical Activity and Health Improvement Conference, held in November 2023, was a significant event that brought together 80 health professionals. The conference included OHID clinical champion training, but also aimed to solidify the understanding of Active NoW among all potential referrers. The event was well-received and has undoubtedly contributed to enhancing the integration of physical activity into healthcare, furthering the mission of Active Norfolk.