Being poor is bad for your health but bringing together health services with benefits and money and advice has brought more than £20m into families pockets across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Over the last three years NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with local authority partners has, with support from the Scottish Government, developed innovative new schemes to help people maximise their incomes by putting patients in touch with a team of money advice workers known as Income Maximisers.
This team provides advice and help to families on how to get the most out of their income with the aim of improving their long-term health.
Initially the project was aimed at pregnant women and families with young children and has now expanded to provide the same support to people affected with a number of health issues.
Deprivation and the stress of worrying about rent, the cost of heating or the cost of feeding a family are key factors linked to poor health.
Since 2011 over 27,000 people have been provided with a range of advice such as getting the most out of a household income, helping them register for benefits and help to apply for one-off grants or loans.
The Income Maximisers have also provided advice on reducing debt payments or help to change service tariffs - for example, household gas or electricity payments.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Director of Public Health, said: “The biggest challenge for the health service is to improve the health of people suffering the effects of disadvantage due to poverty.
“This is an excellent advantage of linking health and money advice services so that people can get the appropriate advice easily and quickly. This initiative helps health professionals understand that referral for money advice can be as important to someone’s health as a referral for an X-ray or a prescription.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is also offering employment opportunities through a number of projects including the modern apprenticeship programme and project SEARCH which provides opportunities for people with learning disabilities to gain access to employment.
Ian Reid, Director of Human Resources added: “We are working with a range of stakeholders to offer real jobs, with real prospects for people from across our communities.
“We hope, as a public sector employer, to continue to lead the way in giving the residents of Greater Glasgow and Clyde the chance of employment and hope for a positive future.”
Dr Noreen Shields, Planning and Development Manager, Corporate Inequalities said: “The NHS is seeing a range of people, both out of work and in work, who are experiencing the stigma of accessing food banks due to increasing poverty.
“NHSGGC has put in place a range of initiatives on money worries and employment which can make a substantial difference to families.”
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact 0141 201 4429 or email: [email protected]uk