GP leaders could join housing boards to boost integration with healthcare

GPs could be invited to sit on the boards of housing organisations to help closer integration with health services, a report has suggested.

Collaboration could tackle heating issues in private homes
Collaboration could tackle heating issues in private homes

An NHS Alliance guide for housing professionals said providers could invite CCG officers or clinical leads to sit on their boards to help maintain collaboration.

The report, Housing: just what the doctor ordered, is a guide for housing organisations looking to integrate services with the NHS.

The development of new care models coming out of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View offered opportunities to tackle tough issues affecting both health and housing organisations, said the report's lead author and NHS Alliance housing lead, Merron Simpson.

GP integration

‘New, effective solutions are emerging where local CCGs, GPs and housing organisations work together, and this needs to become much more widespread.'

Ms Simpson said there was ‘huge ambition’ among both health and housing organisations, ‘but moving from rhetoric to reality can be challenging’.

The report provides practical advice for housing organisations on understanding and engaging with CCGs and GP providers and how to make an offer to provide a service.

Social prescribing

Opportunities for collaboration between the sectors suggested by the report include social prescribing from GP practices, addressing cold temperatures in private housing, co-location of housing within primary care teams, and preventive approaches to reduce NHS demand.

The RCGP conference earlier this month heard that GPs in north London had referred over 700 patients in London through social prescribing schemes.

Ministers have said they want to make 'social prescribing' a 'normal part' of GPs’ job.

Jeremy Hunt told GPs in June that while a fifth of their time is spent dealing with patients' social problems, such as debt, isolation, housing, and employment, half of GPs have no contact at all with the relevant service providers.

NHS Alliance GP nursing lead and report co-author Heather Henry, said: ‘Primary care practitioners often feel helpless to improve housing conditions for their patients. This guide will help housing to make the right connections to clinicians and their organisations, to benefit vulnerable people.’

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