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Closer working between GPs and social workers could help avert NHS funding crisis

Report from colleges of GPs and social work call for ‘Berlin Wall’ between health and social care to be knocked down

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

GPs and social workers are ideally placed to work together to implement radical solutions to the funding crises facing both general practice and social work, according to a joint report by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and The College of Social Work (TCSW) published today.

The report, GPs and Social Workers: Partners for Better Care, describes how social workers can work with GPs to empower strong, resilient communities that will be key to better and more integrated health and social care.
It calls for the ‘Berlin Wall’ between health and social care to be knocked down and for more education for professionals on both sides to better understand the role, responsibilities, and constraints of the other.
It also advocates empowering people to take control over their own care – and giving local communities the opportunity to influence decisions about their health and social care from the bottom-up.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: “We have an ageing and growing population in the UK - with more and more patients presenting with multiple, long-term conditions. Both GPs and social workers are trying to manage increasing workloads and responsibilities with dwindling resources to do so properly and safely.
“We desperately need more funding and more GPs but meaningful, collaborative working will also be essential to maximise the resources we have available to us in the best interests of our patients throughout the health and social care system.”
Jo Cleary, Chair of the TCSW, said: “This report gives powerful examples of how social workers and GPs can work in partnership to ensure that people with long-term conditions, like dementia or diabetes, are better supported in their communities”
“People with long-term conditions account for 70% of acute and primary care budgets, as well as impacting hugely on council budgets, yet there is mounting evidence that this very significant sum of public money could be much better invested in community based services with social workers and GPs in the driving seat,” she said.
“It is estimated that £1.6 billion could be saved across health and social care every year by closer ties between GPs and social workers.”

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