GPs and social workers are ideally placed to work together to implement radical solutions to the funding crises facing both general practice and social work, a joint report has claimed.
The report, released by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and The College of Social Work (TCSW) gives examples of how the groups can work together to empower communities and integrate health and social care.
GPs and Social Workers: Partners for Better Care, calls for more education for professionals on both sides to better understand the role, responsibilities, and constraints of the other.
The report also calls for people to take control over their care, and for local communities to have the opportunity to influence their health and social care.
Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair said: “We have an ageing and growing population in the UK - with more and more patients presenting with multiple, long-term conditions. Both GPs and social workers are trying to manage increasing workloads and responsibilities with dwindling resources to do so properly and safely.
“We desperately need more funding and more GPs but meaningful, collaborative working will also be essential to maximise the resources we have available to us in the best interests of our patients throughout the health and social care system.”
Jo Cleary, chair of the TCSW, said: "People with long-term conditions account for 70% of acute and primary care budgets, as well as impacting hugely on council budgets, yet there is mounting evidence that this very significant sum of public money could be much better invested in community based services with social workers and GPs in the driving seat.
“Social workers, working alongside GPs, can provide strong professional leadership to drive the integration of health and social care that is needed in every locality if the care system is to be sustainable.
“Cost effective community solutions will depend on putting people in control of their own lives and enabling more people to live independently with the right support and, as the five case studies in our report amply demonstrate, a model of delivery centred on GP-social worker partnerships is the way to make it happen.”
Dr David Paynton, RCGP National Clinical Lead for the Centre for Commissioning, said: “Social workers and GPs working together, understanding each other, and being attuned to the pressures that both professions are under is essential for a resilient health and social care sector in the UK.
“The most vulnerable people in society look to both GPs and social workers for care and help to navigate what can be a complicated system.
“Our two professions are ideally placed to ‘fuse’ services and implement innovative and creative ways of working, to ensure that our communities are empowered and patient care and safety remains uncompromised.”