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).
The report, GPs and Social Workers: Partners for Better Care, demonstrates 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.
“In the NHS, general practice makes 90% of all patient contacts, yet it receives just 8.3% of the overall budget. Research by the RCGP has shown that GPs routinely work 11-hour days in clinic, making between 40-60 patient consultations every day.
“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, both benefitting the people who use our services and substantially cutting the £30 billion deficit predicted by the end of the decade in the NHS as well as address the significant pressures already on council budgets.”
“Social workers, working alongside GPs, can provide strong professional leadership to drive the integration of health and social care that is needed in every locality if the care system is to be sustainable.
“Cost effective community solutions will depend on putting people in control of their own lives and enabling more people to live independently with the right support and, as the five case studies in our report amply demonstrate, a model of delivery centred on GP-social worker partnerships is the way to make it happen.”
Dr David Paynton, RCGP National Clinical Lead for the Centre for Commissioning, said: “Social workers and GPs working together, understanding each other, and being attuned to the pressures that both professions are under is essential for a resilient health and social care sector in the UK.
“The most vulnerable people in society look to both GPs and social workers for care and help to navigate what can be a complicated system.
“Our two professions are ideally placed to ‘fuse’ services and implement innovative and creative ways of working, to ensure that our communities are empowered and patient care and safety remains uncompromised.”
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
Source: The Royal College of General Practitioners and The College of Social Work