This briefing on specialist link workers (SLW) has been prepared by the Scottish Public Health Network, NHS Health Scotland and the Improvement Service. It has been produced for Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs), GPs, NHS Boards and other key stakeholders involved in developing Primary Care Improvement Plans.
Primary Care Improvement Plans offer HSCPs the opportunity to provide SLW in general practice who can focus on meeting the social welfare and financial needs of patients and, when necessary, connect patients to sources of support in their community. This is a quality assured and regulated service developed over the last 25 years which is currently in place in approximately 50 general practices in Scotland.
Accessing money advice services in GP practices has only been tested on a small scale in Glasgow. Yet, the city has 80 of the 100 “Deep End” GP practices serving the most deprived populations in Scotland. Initial learning from two local practices supported this study which looked at integrating advice services in nine Deep End practices across north east Glasgow over a 12-month period.
This new study from Glasgow Centre for Population Health found that GPs took the lead in referrals, which totalled 654 people. The majority were living below a standard poverty measure and often had no past contact with advice services. There were £1.5 million in gains with successful claims for disability-related benefits making up half of the gains. Support to manage household debts totalled £470,000 with rent and council tax arrears significant debts. The main reasons people accepted support from other services was homelessness and housing, followed by mental health. The return on investment was £25 for every £1 invested, which was a conservative estimate.
Douglas O’Malley, Health Improvement Lead with Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, summarises the findings of the research in his blog.
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