PERFORMANCE: Every GP practice in Liverpool is to have access to dedicated Citizens Advice advisers to whom patients with non-medical problems can be refered.
These include concerns relating to debt, evictions, job loss and the suspension of benefits.
Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group plans to invest over £1m in the Advice on Prescription Programme over the next three years as part of its mental health strategy.
The CCG began rolling it out across Liverpool’s 95 GP practices this month. Its chair, Nadim Fazlani, said: “We anticipate that by the end of March [or] April all practices will be able to access this service”.
The idea came from GPs who noticed an increase in patients coming to them with non-medical concerns. It was piloted for a year in five practices, starting in August 2012.
Ninety five per cent of the 600 patients referred to Citizens Advice advisers during the pilot were classified as being from vulnerable groups. The majority had mental health problems and just over 30 per cent had an average monthly household income under £400.
Dr Fazlani said he hoped the move would help address Liverpool’s “significant issues with deprivation and health inequalities”.
He said he was “aware of a lot of places where it happens at a small scale”, but not to an entire city.
“It doesn’t matter how good any project is, if it’s small-scale then the impact will be small,” he said. “We need to do things which are going to make a real impact - doing it at scale does that.”
Dr Fazlani said the scheme has had “overwhelming support from health and wellbeing governing body members and our member practices”.
Information provided to HSJ