NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde has combined health services with benefits and money advice to ensure vulnerable patients are collectively £37 Million better off.
Over the last four years NHSGGC staff have made more than 32,000 referrals to Money Advice Services resulting in a £37 Million gain for many vulnerable patients and families.
Nearly a third of the board’s population live in the 15% most deprived zones in Scotland meaning NHSGGC has an important role to play in financial inclusion. Child poverty rates in Glasgow City stand at 33% while more than 50% of North East Glasgow’s population live in poverty.
The board’s Money Advice Service provides wide ranging support including getting the most out of a household income, helping patients register for benefits and help to apply for one-off grants or loans, all with the aim of improving patient 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.
Dr Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Director of Public Health, said: “One of the biggest challenges for the health service, as a whole, is to improve the health of people suffering the effects of disadvantage due to poverty.
“NHSGGC is playing a vital role in supporting patients avoid any major financial crisis, and the resulting negative effects on health, through early intervention on financial issues.
“Socio-economic inequality has a unique impact on the population of Greater Glasgow and Clyde. We are determined that we will continue tackling it in order to improve the health of people across the board area.”
The board also tackles inequality through job creation, training and education across Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The Modern Apprenticeship programme has just welcomed a new intake while Project SEARCH, which provides opportunities for young people with learning disabilities gain access to employment while studying, began its third year in August.
Anne MacPherson, Director of Human Resources, said: “We continue to work with a range of stakeholders to offer real jobs, with long term prospects for people from across our communities.
“As a major public sector employer we 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 and vulnerable patients.”