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Establishing a welfare advice service in family practices: views of advice workers and primary care staff

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2005
<mark>Journal</mark>Family Practice
Issue number5
Volume22
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)513-519
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Background. The placement of welfare advice services in family practice to assist patients with health-related social and economic issues (e.g. disability benefits) has gathered momentum over the last decade in the UK. This expansion of primary care raises a number of issues for practices hosting these services.

Objectives. To gain the views of advice workers and primary care staff about the issues raised in hosting a welfare advice service across 30 practices in inner city Bradford.

Methods. Views were obtained through focus groups with six advice workers, and primary care staff in 14 practices. A questionnaire was also posted to all practice managers asking their opinions about the service.

Results. The focus groups highlighted a number of advantages for patients, including improvements in health and quality of life through increased income and reduced stress from social and economic issues. For practice staff, the service provided a resource to refer patients for welfare advice, reducing the time spent dealing with welfare issues, thereby reducing workload. This was confirmed in the questionnaire to practice managers where 72% said the service had saved time for GPs and reception/office staff. The advice workers raised concerns about the perceived level of commitment to the service from some staff at some practices. Practice staff were particularly concerned about the need for feedback about referrals.

Conclusion. Providing welfare advice in family practice can act as a valuable resource for primary care staff helping to address their patients health-related social and economic needs.