GPs in East London will be asking patients questions regarding housing and finances, to help identify problems that can negatively impact their health and direct preventive social prescribing.
Around 500,000 adults in the London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest will be asked four yes/no questions by their GP practice as part of a new campaign.
The questionnaire, which will be send via text message or carried out during a routine interaction with the practice, will include questions such as:
- Do you have problems with your housing? (For example damp, overcrowding, or insecure tenancy)
- Do you have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month?
- Are you lonely?
- Do you find it hard to understand information given to you about your health, or treatments you may be receiving?
East London ICB and Queen Mary University, who designed the campaign, said that GPs will use the information to ‘provide personalised health advice and signpost to local services that can help address the problems directly’.
Currently 80% of practices in north east London have signed up to take part in the campaign which starts this month and will run for two years, with ‘a view to implementing the approach as routine in the longer term to help people get the support they need and address health inequalities in the region’.
Dr Jagan John, a GP and board member at NHS North East London, said: ‘There are many different factors that can affect a person’s health so taking a few moments to read and respond to these text messages will help us provide personalised advice to people in north east London that can support them to improve their wellbeing.
‘The information we receive will enable us to offer tailored health recommendations or signpost people to services that can offer them specialist support with a range of issues.
‘It will also help us anticipate demand for services and to develop new initiatives that directly address the needs of our local communities.’
Keith Prescott, clinical effectiveness group’s programme lead at Queen Mary University said: ‘Many people in north east London are living without some of the essential means for good health, like quality housing and good pay.
‘We are working with local NHS teams to counter the impact of these wider determinants of health in the region. If you receive the text message, please respond – it will make a difference. It will enable your GP to signpost you to services that can help, and also provide you with the best and most appropriate healthcare.’