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Keywords:

  • ethnicity;
  • general practice;
  • primary care;
  • welfare advice;
  • welfare benefits

Abstract

General practices in the UK are increasingly hosting welfare advice services on their premises to address patients’ social and economic needs. In this paper, the authors present the outcomes of a service providing welfare advice across 30 general practices in inner-city Bradford. A retrospective study of all patients referred for advice during the initial 24 months of the project was conducted. The following information was collected: patient demographics, source of referrals, advice issues raised and income generated through benefit claims. The advice workers saw 2484 patients dealing with over 4000 welfare advice issues. Demand for the service varied widely across practices, reflecting practice list size and engagement with the service by practice staff. The main source of referrals was general practitioners (28%), and disability-related welfare benefits constituted the largest category of advice issues. Sixty-nine per cent of patients seen for advice were of south Asian ethnic origin. The advice workers raised £2 389 255 in welfare benefit claims for patients, primarily through disability-related benefits. Approximately one in four patients referred for advice benefited financially. It is concluded that the service is an excellent strategy by which primary care organisations address the social, economic and environmental influences on the health of their population.