Practices in London are to have the option of referring patients for financial support and advice as part of a social prescribing scheme.
The project is to run in Lambeth and Southwark and developers claim it as the first scheme of its kind. Known as Financial Shield, it has been developed by two charities, Responsible Credit and Impact on Urban Health and will seek to help 2,200 people in its first, pilot year. Social prescribing teams will include financial support link workers.
Impact on Urban Health chief executive Kieron Boyle said: “People’s finances and health are connected: debt, money worries and financial insecurity can have a profound effect on our physical and mental health. This is especially the case in ‘cliff edge’ moments such as unexpected bills or delays in income. As a result, we’re proud to support the UK’s first model of social prescribing that includes debt advice, bringing together local authorities, housing associations and healthcare providers. We think this approach could spread to cities across the country.”
Setting out the plans Responsible Credit says: “The inter-connected nature of financial and health problems requires a joined up response. We know that financial problems can negatively impact health. For example, by creating or exacerbating stress, anxiety and depression or because people can’t afford essentials and cut back on food and heating. We also know that health problems can impact financial well-being by limiting the ability to work, or because managing a long-term condition creates additional living costs. But identifying people with both health and financial problems can be difficult. Neither health agencies nor creditors have a full view of people’s circumstances. The opportunities to assist through primary care and creditor recovery procedures may be missed. People may also need greater help to access the financial support that is available within their communities.”