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Practices hire social workers under NHS-funded scheme

GP practices in Wales are being given NHS ‘transformation’ funding to incorporate social workers into primary care teams.

Practices in the Cwm Taf and Aneurin Bevin health board regions are using funding to test out the viability of employing social workers.

They will be using money devoted to ‘new models of care’ – organisations which will provide primary, secondary and community care – to fund the social workers.

There are 81 GP practices within 12 clusters in the Aneurin Bevan University health board area which are hiring social workers.

A spokesperson for the health board said: ‘Our GP clusters have been utilising the transformation funding they’ve received to commission new models of care, which includes, but is not exclusive to, social workers.

Merthyr Tydfil are exploring the option of having social workers as an integral part of their primary care team through £6 million of funding to promote ‘new models of care’ that will provide a wider range of services.

A spokesperson for Cwm Taf health board said: ‘This will be tested and the concept may be rolled out across Cwm Taf if the outcomes evaluate well.’

It comes as commissioners are increasing the use of social prescribing to help treat health problems.

Public Health England announced earlier this month that they would be asking GPs to pilot a scheme in Manchester to help combat loneliness in elderly people, while NHS England announced its new national clinical champion for social prescribing, to advocate schemes that will help patients who are struggling with housing, debt and even loneliness.