Herefordshire Council is one of only 15 local authorities in Britain to successfully bid for funding which will look at how GPs can work with local organisations to provide social activities and community support.
The Golden Valley is one of the county’s most rural areas where more than eight percent of the county’s 65+ year olds live, many in social isolation. The successful bid is for £75,000 to look at ways of bringing together GPs and local community groups, support and volunteers, so that people’s wellbeing needs are considered alongside their health needs.
The 12 month funding will pay for a small team of people who will explore ways of helping GPs link in with local groups and organisations so that their patients can be directed to the social support they need too.
If a successful approach is developed, it could be replicated across the whole of the county or give other areas ideas of how they could do something similar. This government funding is also intended to give other areas of the country ideas they could adapt, so Herefordshire’s proposal will be shared across the UK.
Councillor Graham Powell, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Working with a GP practice which covers a number of villages, and with corresponding parish councils, other community groups and volunteers, we want to explore how very rural community assets can support health and wellbeing. We know that if the links were stronger, GPs could refer and provide their patients with a more holistic health and wellbeing support service.
“The council needs to reduce demand on adult social care and the health service needs to reduce demand on hospital services. By working proactively to forge links at local community level, we can focus on prevention and early intervention. At the same time we can empower residents and the communities in which they live.
“If we get this right, a proposed new approach could have a huge impact on services that are already stretched such as GP and nurse home visits and hospital discharges.”
Graeme Cleland, Managing Director, Taurus Healthcare, added: “GPs in Herefordshire are always looking at ways to provide a service to patients that encompasses as much of their health and care needs as possible. We welcome this initiative and look forward to working with Herefordshire Council.”