Laura*, 26, a lone parent, works part-time as a carer for a local agency. She was referred to the Advice on Prescription project by her GP after she started to request an increase in existing medication for depression and anxiety. Laura told our support worker that she had many debts but was most worried about an eviction notice that was due to be heard in the county court in 2 days’ time.
Laura wasn’t sure what to do, she was afraid of losing her job, her home and perhaps because of this even her children. Laura said that she had few support structures and felt lonely and isolated. She had rent arrears of £700 but didn’t have enough to pay this because she had been prioritising repayments to a payday loan provider and her bank overdraft.
Our support worker helped Laura draw up a financial statement for court, making sure that she had representation from a specialist housing adviser - this stopped her losing her home!
Laura was given an appointment with one of our debt caseworkers who was able to put a hold on all pending bailiff action, work with her to make sense of her debts and make token offers of repayments to everyone she owed. Our debt and money management team then provided ongoing budgeting and resilience support to avoid any further financial and housing problems.
*At Citizens Advice Liverpool, we provide confidential advice. So while their stories are true, client names and images have been changed.
What is Advice on Prescription?
Launched in 2015 by NHS Liverpool CCG in partnership with Citizens Advice Liverpool, the service enables all Liverpool GPs to refer patients for assistance from Citizens Advice advisers on a range of non-medical issues including housing, homelessness, job loss, complex debts, fuel poverty and welfare benefits.
The service offers a practical treatment option for GPs and currently provides 50 advice clinics in Liverpool health settings every week, receiving 730 referrals per month.
Last year (2017/18), the APP team helped patients manage £2.7 million of debt, and maximised patient income to the value of £6.7 million. In addition, this programme is enjoying notable successes in terms of service delivery and partnership working.
The service is managed by Citizens Advice Liverpool, for further information contact:
"The Advice on Prescription service gives our GPs an extra tool in the box for supporting people whose needs may not necessarily be medical but are absolutely impacting on how they feel. This has been particularly important in these times of austerity and local authority cuts. Our patients get fantastic support and advice and the feedback has been 100% positive. We see this type of social prescribing as a vitally important part of General Practice now and in the future."
Dr Simon Bowers, Fulwood Green Medical Centre