Citizens Advice on prescription

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Half of Manchester’s GP surgeries can now put patients straight through to Citizens Advice via dedicated hotlines.

The service is designed to help those people whose visit to the doctor is linked to other social or living issues, such as debt, benefits or heating, which could also be having an impact on their health or wellbeing.

  • Hotlines put patients straight through to an advice worker

  • They can help with debt, housing, benefits or other living issues

  • This helps GPs tackle medical matters in tandem with social help

  • More than half the calls to date are benefits-related

  • Almost 65% of queries were resolved in one phone call

  • Callers said these sort of worries had been affecting their health.

Citizens Advice research has found that 8 out of 10 GPs felt that they didn’t have enough time to focus on clinical care in appointments because they were being asked to help with other tasks such as writing up debt plans or helping to fill in benefits forms.

Now, a patient who needs this type of help will be told by the GP about the telephone service so that they can use it after the consultation and be put straight through to an adviser for confidential help. Alternatively, GPs can also refer the patient straight into the Manchester arm of Citizens Advice so that he or she receives a call back. A key part of the Manchester Local Care Organisation approach is to address the underlying causes of illness. The project and associated staffing will run for four years and has been funded by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.

As doctors we know there is no separation between what’s going on in people’s lives and how that can affect their mental and physical health. All too often, anxiety-related conditions are caused by or exacerbated by the need for practical help for concerns related to benefits or other worries. Practical advice combined with medical care is more holistic approach for the patient and their families.
— Dr Umar Tahir, GP, Manchester Medical, Moss Side.