What is the impact of locating welfare advice in GP surgeries?

Patients seeking support related to benefits claims and social problems associated with low income and debt account for a considerable amount of busy General Practitioners’ consultation time. Doctors do not have the appropriate training to tackle patients’ financial issues.

A local council (Haringey) is working with GPs in the borough to locate “welfare advice hubs” in primary care settings, allowing GPs to signpost patients to non-clinical support for health-related benefits and debt issues from Citizens Advice Bureau advisers in-house.

Evaluating the impact of this “co-location” is the subject of a joint NIHR SPHR and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North Thames research project. The three-year project is examining the effect on primary care workload and the health and health-seeking behaviour of patients needing such non-clinical support.

Dr Charlotte Woodhead, from UCL, presented the project in a CLAHRC North Thames research showcase event in November 2016. The project was one of over 50 featured at the event. Dr Woodhead and a patient/service user who had advised and acted as a co-researcher on the project, spoke to attendees from health and social care organisations across the North Thames region about the research.

You can view a poster about the study, which includes an overview of the research and early findings of note here.