NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has awarded South Liverpool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) a new five-year contract for the Advice on Prescription service.
The CAB will continue to work from GP practices across the city, offering expert financial advice and contributing to the prevention of mental ill health and recovery from mental illness.
The CCG plans to invest over £2.5 million in Advice on Prescription (AoP) over the next five years as part of its mental health strategy.
The Advice on Prescription service was launched in April 2014 by NHS Liverpool CCG in partnership with South Liverpool CAB, under an initial two-year contract. The project enables all Liverpool GP’s to refer patients for assistance from CAB advisors on a range of issues including: housing, homelessness, job loss, complex debt issues and benefits advice. Advice on Prescription was developed after GP’s reported a rise in patients presenting with problems that had a practical rather than medical cause, reflecting the strong link between social and economic hardship and poor health.
Dr Nadim Fazlani is a local GP, Clinical lead for Mental Health and Chair at NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), he said, “We are delighted to continue to have the Advice on Prescription service available to the residents of Liverpool.
“The service is providing timely access to advice and support for some of the city’s most vulnerable and socially excluded people. In turn, this intervention is having a positive impact on their health and wellbeing by reducing hardship, debt levels, social isolation and hospital admissions.
“A key part of Healthy Liverpool, our vision for health and care in the city, is the idea of care being patient-centred. It’s important that we treat people as individuals and value mental health just as much a physical health; Advice on Prescription helps people deal with circumstances that make them more likely to suffer from mental ill health and can, in turn, help to improve their overall health and wellbeing.”
Evaluation has highlighted that 80% of all people referred to the scheme suffer from a long-term health condition, 40% live alone, and 75% have an annual income of less than £12,000.
Over the last two years the CAB team have dealt with over 13,000 referrals, and increased income for local people by a total of £12 million. This income is raised through accessing tax credits and housing benefit, helping with prescription charges, unclaimed wages and other health-related benefits.
Caryn Matthews, Chief Executive, South Liverpool CAB, said “The Advice on Prescription service is an additional treatment option for local doctors. It helps patients who are vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet. Significantly, we are incredibly pleased that we have helped some of our most vulnerable local people manage almost £2 million worth of debt.
“The news that we will be continuing to deliver the Advice on Prescription service for the next five years means that we can build on the work that has already been done and continue to contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of thousands of Liverpool people.
“We are proud to be delivering this exciting health initiative in local communities and look forward to working with service users and GPs to further develop the service.”