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Cutbacks in social, financial and legal advice is making our patients ill, GPs warn

GPs are seeing a rising number of patients with concerns about benefits, debt and housing problems, a legal charity has warned.

Out of over 1,000 GPs surveyed by the Legal Action Goup, two thirds said that in the last year the number of patients whose health would have benefitted from legal, financial or other specialist advice on social issues has increased.

Over half of GPs also reported that patients were increasingly discussing housing difficulties during consultations, with the Legal Action Group pointing to Government cuts to social and welfare legal advisory services as a possible reason behind the rise.

According to the charity, which promotes access to justice for disadvantaged people, almost half of GPs said that unless patients get access to this type of advice they will experience negative effects on their health such as stress, anxiety or hospitalisation ‘to a great extent’.

In a report on the findings, the charity said: ‘We initiated the research because we had some limited anecdotal evidence that GPs had noticed an increase in patients who might benefit from legal or specialist advice on social and welfare law problems. We had no idea before obtaining the results just how extensively this opinion was held. GPs also clearly believe that not obtaining advice on social welfare law problems can have a negative effect on a person’s health, with 48% believing this is true to a great extent.’

It comes as GPs working in deprived areas have warned that they are especially badly affected by ongoing cuts to MPIG funding putting patients at risk of also losing healthcare access.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Vinci Ho

    This is not about how fast the GDP has been rising. This is not about how low the the unemployment rate is(bearing in mind there are so many zero hour contracts out there).
    This is about poverty at work
    This is about the difference between the rich and the poor getting wider and wider.
    Another 5 years of austerity and cuts , as implied by GO, these problems as we can reflect will only intensify.
    Problem is no single politician from any party has a vision and intelligence to 'save people'..........

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  • to be fair I see a lot of GP's around becoming increasingly unwell

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  • The reality is that the UK is broke.

    Any future Government will pretend to still provide an NHS, but in reality this will become more like basic life support, as exists in third world countries, if you are lucky enough to get it.

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  • Until government enforces more obligations on employers and fastfood places et al, the amount of illness from work-related stress, and other environmental stressors (drugs, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise), this will continue to spiral.
    Employees are being pushed, need to be given time during work to have proper breaks, exercise etc.

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  • There is plenty of money . It is not distributed fairly.

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