DOCTORS need to play a greater role in helping to uncover the borough’s army of hidden carers.
Nationally about 93 per cent of carers come into GP practices but not all of them are picked up.
It is estimated there are about 20,000 carers in Redditch and Bromsgrove but many of them do not class themselves as such because they believe they are simply doing their duty by looking after a loved one or family member. As a result they can miss out on much needed emotional and financial support.
The GP carer service, run by Worcestershire Association of Carers, operates across the county’s 68 GP surgeries and aims to identify carers, provide advice and refer them to other organisations for help.
In the last two years the service has helped 444 carers in Redditch and Bromsgrove with a range of conditions such as Alzheimer’s. It is estimated the association’s work removes the need for 12 visits to a GP a year and at least one hospital admission for each individual, saving the health service in the region of £174,000.
Kim Terry, GP Carer Support Adviser, said GPs could do more to support the service by raising awareness of it within surgeries and when talking to patients.
“GPs aren’t recognising carers necessarily so the difficulty we have is getting information out to GPs to help them,” she told a meeting of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group.
“Sometimes carers don’t recognise themselves and so remain hidden. You don’t necessarily want to say to a GP I am really stressed or tired or depressed because I have this important caring role at home.
“We’re not saying every GP needs to know who their carers are but sometimes the questioning can go further and we are here to help with that.”
Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said: “I’m sure we can do a bit more to raise awareness of the service and how to refer in.”
The Standard reported two weeks ago how Jan Little, from Alzheimer’s UK and who runs the Redditch Friends Together Group, warned of a looming crisis amongst carers who were struggling to cope with the demands of looking after a loved one which would get worse as the number of people with dementia increased.