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.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP workload fears over antibody testing rollout for 'no clinical benefit'

GP workload fears over antibody testing rollout for 'no clinical benefit'

GP practices are being contacted by patients asking for antibody tests as the government...

Top GP spells out actions to protect BAME staff after PHE review fails to offer solutions

Top GP spells out actions to protect BAME staff after PHE review fails to offer solutions

The BMA's top GP has spelled out the advice and support practices need to protect...

GP time per patient slumps to lowest level in half a decade

GP time per patient slumps to lowest level in half a decade

GP time available per patient has dropped by six and a half minutes since 2015 -...

An uncompromising defender of the NHS: colleagues remember Dr Ron Singer

An uncompromising defender of the NHS: colleagues remember Dr Ron Singer

Colleagues and friends have paid tribute after the death of East London GP Dr Ron...

COVID-19 death rate highest among BAME groups, delayed PHE review confirms

COVID-19 death rate highest among BAME groups, delayed PHE review confirms

Death rates from COVID-19 are highest among patients from BAME groups, according...

GPs face hundreds of complaints over shielding and PPE during pandemic

GPs face hundreds of complaints over shielding and PPE during pandemic

GP practices have faced hundreds of complaints over issues including shielding and...