Citizens Advice Launch GP Surgery Project in South Hams

(Last Updated On: August 30, 2016)


An exciting new project where social advice and information can be found at GP surgeries, has recently been launched.

Local leading advice charities, Citizens Advice South Hams and Citizens Advice Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon, are delighted to announce the new one year pilot project in South Hams which will be offering social support to patients.

Reports from areas of the UK suggest that it is not uncommon for around one in four GP patient appointments to be due to social rather than medical causes. Poverty, money, relationship, domestic violence and social isolation issues are just a few of the underlying factors that can lead to increased stress and anxiety in patients.

This project aims to help tackle underlying factors affecting patient well-being. By intervening at this early stage, this service will help to reduce patients from reaching a more critical stage of crisis, therefore reducing the demand on GP and NHS services.

South Hams District Council have funded the project, which means that participating surgeries, Chillington Health Centre and Woolwell Medical Centre, can now offer patients an appointment with an advice specialist in the surgery.

Janie Moor, Manager of Citizens Advice South Hams, said. “Evidence from similar pilots hosted by Citizens Advice Liverpool and Citizens Advice Guildford have demonstrated that ‘prescribing advice’ to patients with non-medical health issues can help improve the health and wellbeing of patients who are exhibiting signs of stress, anxiety or early stages of depression.

“The key to successful outcomes for these clients, is for access to the most appropriate sources of help as quickly as possible.  Evidence from pilots in Liverpool and Guildford shows that locating Citizens Advice services within GP practices significantly increases the likelihood of clients accessing advice.  For many, the visit to the GP has been made because doctors are trusted and the location is familiar to the patient.”

South Hams District Council’s Cllr Simon Wright, Portfolio Holder for Support Services, said: “Citizens Advice South Hams are already linked to a range of specialist projects and referral partners with a single source of information, which means GPs have which GPs can refer to, rather than having to consider a variety of different options for patients.  In this project, medical and non-medical staff will be able to directly arrange an appointment with a specialist Citizens Advice advisor which will be held at the surgery.”

During the advice session, the advisor will use Citizens Advice’s diagnostic tools to help the client explore, identify and start to resolve problems that are causing stress and anxiety.  Experienced advisors will integrate advice with recommendations for social activities to ensure the wider needs of patients are met.  If this project proves to be a success, then there are plans to extend across Devon.

For more details about the project contact:

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