Dorset GP saves £80,000 on just six patients

A GP in Dorset has saved more than £80,000 in NHS costs for just six patients by using a befriending scheme to boost emotional well-being.

Befriending: boosting emotional well-being improved patients' overall health (Photo: WRVS)
Befriending: boosting emotional well-being improved patients' overall health (Photo: WRVS)

Dr Anne Hayden, a GP in West Moors in Dorset, pioneered the befriending service with the volunteering charity WRVS.

Over 18 months, her work has led to savings of more than £80,000 through reducing unnecessary GP and emergency hospital appointments for six patients who were high users of NHS services. Reduced NHS use by just one patient cut NHS spending by £18,000.

Dr Hayden has many patients for whom anxiety causes 'symptoms of illness that really didn't exist' and this led her to recognise the need to improve emotional well-being.


Dr Anne Hayden

'I realised that if you could build the self-esteem and confidence of a person, you could improve not only their mental health, but also their physical health and in turn, their general quality of life,' she said.

Dr Hayden initially sought the support of a local group, providing patients with nine hours of befriending support a week.

She then helped to launch a 'phone a friend' service, which, with WRVS support, developed into an outreach service.

WRVS is now urging other GPs to identify elderly patients who need support with emotional well-being and to refer these patients to local community support services.

Research by the charity suggests that one in 10 elderly people believed that lack of time in consultations meant their loneliness or isolation was not recognised by their GP.

WRVS chief executive David McCullough said: 'It's to the benefit of not only the patient, but also the NHS as a whole, that GPs spot the early warning signs of isolation and loneliness and refer patients to services such as befriending or community centres.'

Dr Hayden added: 'It is inevitable that in the short time a GP has to see each patient, they prioritise the immediate medical concern. This should not be at the expense of wider well-being issues, which in the past may have taken a back seat.'

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

BROWSE BY THERAPEUTIC AREA

A-Z listing of therapeutic areas. Find the latest clinical news and education

SEE ALL TOPICS AND PAGES

Browse a list of all of the pages and topics on GPonline

Pain Resource Centre

Information on chronic and neuropathic pain

Otitis Externa Toolkit

Resources to help treat this outer ear infection

GPs practising in the UK can request to receive free copies of GP by completing our online registration form. For paid subscriptions to GP visit our subscriptions site.