LETTERS

I was interested to read about the growing popularity of welfare benefits advice in health settings ('Mutual benefits', features, page 34, 15 February) as a mechanism to redress inequalities in health.

Experience in the Peak District indicates that citizens advice bureaux in primary care are especially well placed to help address 'hidden' rural deprivation, which by its nature is difficult to detect and remedy.

We have offered sessions in community settings that were not well used, despite considerable publicity. But when located in the GP surgery of those same villages, uptake spiralled and remains high.

It is difficult to ask for help and admit one's poverty in an area of relative affluence. The stigma-free public image of CABs sited in the neutrality of GP surgeries enables the most vulnerable people in rural communities to access help and advice.

High Peak CAB runs weekly sessions in five Peak District villages. Happily, High Peak and Dales primary care group recognises the health improvement potential of this partnership and plans to offer a CAB service in each of its 17 main surgeries within the next two years.

Dr Richard Campen Chair High Peak Citizens Advice Bureau