Call for Scottish GP surgery teams to offer money advice


GPs serving the most deprived communities in Scotland say practices should be able to offer advice on money as well as healthcare.


The call comes after the success of a project to embed financial advisers in GP surgeries to offer advice for patients on issues such as claiming benefits.


Over the course of four years, patients received the equivalent of £27 in financial gains for every £1 invested.


Now GPs from the Deep End project, an informal network of 100 practices working in the most deprived areas of Scotland, want the scheme to be rolled out further.


Campaigning for the expansion of financial advisers is one the aims for the future outlined in a paper by Professor Graham Watt of Glasgow university, published to mark 10 years since the Deep End project was set up.


Dr Andrea Williamson, a GP who works in homelessness and addiction services in Glasgow, said: “The evidence base behind the financial advice is really strong.


“For patients it has been a huge boom, the income generated for people in terms of unclaimed benefits has been really remarkable.


“Something we really recognise as the Deep End project is that the health care system in terms of tackling health inequalities and social exclusion is only part of the picture.


“A much stronger component needs to be the things that will affect people’s social determinants of health – so income is the key driver.


“If people are able to maximise their benefits, then that is a positive thing and something we are really keen to support and push for.”


Dr Williamson said other examples of having ‘attached’ workers in GP surgeries included specialists who could offer advice on alcohol addiction.


“A few years ago, we worked on a pilot attaching specialist alcohol nurses into Deep End practices which had lots of issues with people struggling with alcohol use,” she said.


“That pilot was very successful and is currently being rolled out across the three health and social care partnership areas in Glasgow.


“From the work we did, patients really value that they can see an alcohol worker in their own GP setting and don’t need to attend specialist community, addiction teams.


“There is quite a lot of stigma – but at a GP practice, nobody knows why you are there.”



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