Initiative set to expand its integral role in helpingout communities
AN award-winning project aimed at providing advice on welfare and financial issues is set to be extended in Dundee.
Dundee City Council scooped the Chairman’s Award at the 2017 Cosla Excellence Awards last week for a scheme that sees welfare rights advisers based in five city GP surgeries.
The advisers have become an integral part of services provided to patients, addressing socio-economic concerns and allowing GPs and other health professionals to concentrate more on clinical needs.
The scheme has proven so successful that there are plans already in place to take the service to further GP practices in Dundee.
While the actual locations are still not being disclosed, Craig Mason, senior manager for the council’s advice services, said they would be in place no later than March — perhaps sooner.
Mr Mason said the council was anxious to extend the project further following its success.
The idea, he explained, was for welfare rights officers to be on hand in surgeries once a week to answer patients’ concerns on welfare and financial issues.
He said the scheme, which launched in 2015, allows the officers — with the consent of clients — immediate access to patients’ medical records, speeding up benefits claims and appeals.
He added: “Welfare rights teams can assist those with health conditions to claim the benefits to which they are entitled. This can then lead to better incomes, better diets, better social inclusion and better health and wellbeing generally.
“The advisers have become an integral part of the services provided to patients in their local communities, addressing socio-economic concerns and allowing GPs and other health professionals to concentrate more on clinical needs.
“By linking in early with people when illness or disability strikes, the advisers have successfully used access to medical records to secure more than £2.1 million in extra income since January 2015.”
Mr Mason said the money ultimately stayed in the local economy.
A report earlier this year estimated that every £1 invested in this service generates about £39 in social and economic benefits to local communities.
Mr Mason said that as universal credit — a new system that rolls six existing benefits into a single monthly payment — draws closer, the service could prove to be even
Welfare rights adviser Fay Costello and the team with their award.