Welfare advice in GP surgeries – what is the impact on GP’s workload and patients’ health and wellbeing

GPs are often faced with patients seeking help and advice on non-clinical issues such as debt, unemployment and housing. Though these issues undoubtedly impact patients’ health and wellbeing, health professionals are not always the best qualified people to tackle them.

We investigated the impact of putting welfare advice, and welfare advisers in GP surgeries on

  • the ability of low income groups to secure financial support they are entitled to
  • patients’ anxiety and stress associated with financial related social worries;
  • and, to GP time spent managing non-clinical issues

New CLAHRC BITEs offer a summary of two papers investigating the impact –

  1. A qualitative study to identify the processes by which co-located services can improve outcomes for GP practices

Key Findings

Co-location of welfare services has many benefits to patients including:

  1. Offering a signposting option for staff in contact with patients with ‘non-clinical’ social needs.
  2. Helping to address underlying patient social issues.
  3. Providing an alternative option for patients seeking help for such issues.
  4. Reducing bureaucratic pressures and time demands on practice staff.

Read the BITE

Co-located welfare advice in GP surgeries: part I

  2. A quantitative study, using a controlled comparison, assessing the impact on mental health and service use of co-located welfare advice.

Key Findings – service users receiving welfare advice versus control group

  • Had the advice service not been at the practice, nearly half of the advice group would not have sought help or consulted their GP instead.
  • The majority of advice recipients reported improved circumstances after advice (e.g., stress, income, housing etc.)

Compared to those who did not get advice, after 3 months:

  • Those in the advice group whose circumstances improved experienced a bigger improvement in their well-being.
  • Those in the advice group experienced a bigger reduction in financial strain, reduced credit card and overdraft use.
  • Those in the advice group experienced a bigger reduction in symptoms of common mental disorder, especially among recipients who were female, those who identified as Black and those who reported that their circumstances improved as a result of advice.
  • There was, however no evidence for a reduced frequency of GP consultations.
  • For every £1 of investment by funders, those receiving co-located advice gained £15 in entitlements on average

Read the BITE

Co-located welfare advice in GP surgeries: part II

 

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