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Improving partnership working between primary care and money advice services

Date: August 2016
Category: Report
Author: Greig Inglis, James Egan

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The main focus of this study was to look at how Deep End General Practitioners (GPs) working in some of the most deprived parts of Glasgow are responding to the welfare reforms, and how links between them and local money/welfare advice services could be strengthened to improve outcomes. GPs reported that welfare reforms were generating considerable workloads and harming the health and wellbeing of patients. Supportive measures that were identified as being of potential benefit included a simplified referral process to advice services that it is non-disruptive during GPs’ consultations and involving colleagues, such as practice receptionists, in the referral process. Some measures to improve connections with advice services were also identified:

  • Ensuring that requests for benefit appeal letters were specific about the evidence required to ensure an increased likelihood of positive outcomes.
  • Providing GPs with salient feedback on attendance at advice services and outcomes, such as any financial gains achieved, could encourage future referrals and help build trust with local advice services.

One of the acknowledged challenges involved the funding and scaling-up of an integrated advice service model within General Practices across Glasgow. Additionally, the city is expected to face increased demand on advice services with the expansion of Universal Credit and continuing migration from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments.

Local opportunities are being developed with partners from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the Wheatley Group, the Deep End GP project and others to test co-location of advice services in two GP practices in north east Glasgow. Early results indicate that this new work is achieving a good uptake and positive outcomes. There may be national opportunities to support these local efforts to address inequalities with plans to devolve certain types of benefits, which have a health-related component, plans to establish a new Scottish social security agency and plans to recruit a sizeable workforce of Community Links Workers to support GPs across Scotland.