Analysis: GPs take the strain of ‘Austerity Britain’. . .
1 April 2014, Pulse
Many practices are increasingly finding their waiting rooms full of patients struggling as a result of the economic downturn. Alisdair Stirling reports.
A Pulse survey published last month found that as many as one in six GPs has been asked to refer a patient to a food bank within the past 12 months.
Food bank charities are increasingly requireing a referral from a sanctioned support agency, which can include schools, GPs or the jobcentre, to ensure that support ends up reaching the most needy.
And it is this type of additional work, often unfunded, that is crippling practices, says Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs and a GP in the New Forest.
He says: ‘It’s not unusual in surgery to have half a dozen patients who don’t actually need to see you. They might be consulting to change a referral under Choose and Book or they might need to see a social worker or their benefits have been cut and they don’t know what to do.
‘In the end, it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. There are lots of really good practices trying to go the extra mile for patients that are buckling under the strain and about to implode.’
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