Bradford and Airedale PCT ... Health Plus
Health Plus provides a service for all communities within the City tPCT patch, but in particular it aims to help those who are from some of the most disadvantaged and hard to reach communities e.g. Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities, asylum seekers, older people, homeless people and patients with mental health issues.
Health Plus forms part of the tPCT's strategy on reducing poverty and health inequalities by providing patients with access to welfare advice within primary care settings. It was set up, under Health Action Zone funding, in March 2001 and mainstreamed in April 2003.
The service commission's local advice agencies to employ six front-line Health Plus advisers and one specialist welfare benefit advisor
Each Health Plus adviser provides a weekly three hour advice session for patients across a number of GP practices and primary care centres. Patients may be referred by primary health care staff or may self-refer.
The service is based in 26 GP practices, Bevan House and Manningham Clinic.
The specialist welfare benefit advisor takes referrals from the health plus advisers on more complex matters e.g. benefit tribunals
Approximately 75% of all enquiries are concerned with welfare benefits advice and many patients present with more than one issue/problem
Between March 2001and September 2005, a total of 4,952 patients have been seen by the Health Plus service and the total amount of money raised for patients, in the form of entitlement to unclaimed benefits, is in excess of £3.5 million.
It is important to note that income generation through benefit claims is only one aspect of advice and assistance given. Other areas such as debt, housing, immigration and employment rights are equally important for patients.
An evaluation carried out by the University of Bradford showed improvements in the health and quality of life of patients, particularly with regard to the alleviation of issues causing stress and anxiety.
One patient said: "Although my health problems are the same, my stress has reduced immensely allowing me to cope a lot better."
The evaluation also showed that Health Plus relieves the burden on practice staff of dealing with welfare issues; thereby reducing workload
Greasley, P. (2003) The Health Plus Project: Advice Workers in Primary Care in Inner City Bradford. Evaluation report. School of Health Studies, University of Bradford.
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