An online information hub to help GPs improve the support and services they provide for carers will be developed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The Department of Health has awarded the college more than £380,000 to develop the hub, which will collect all the information GPs, primary healthcare staff, practice teams, commissioners and Health & Wellbeing Board representatives might need to identify and support carers.
The hub will have information about the needs of carers, right from the initial diagnosis through to the end of the condition or even end of life, with a focus on depression. It will also offer guidance about what questions to ask carers, what rights they have and what support is available.
The aim is to link a range of supplementary resources on disease specific conditions including dementia, end of life care, cancer and mental health.
RCGP has called carers a "hidden healthcare army". The latest figures suggest that 12% of all UK adults are carers.
Dr Sachin Gupta, RCGP’s clinical lead for the project, said: “There are estimated to be over six million carers in the UK, many of whom are not getting the help or access to resources which they need. I am excited about the RCGP Supporting Carers in General Practice programme, which will go some way to increasing the identification of carers at an earlier stage, ensuring that they are fully supported from the outset.”
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “GPs and their staff are often the main point of contact for patients and the people who care for them, so it’s really important that they recognise and understand the impact of caring on carers. Initiatives like this provide healthcare professionals with information and advice on how best to identify and support carers so they do not have to shoulder their caring responsibilities alone.
“More and more people are becoming carers and we want to create a fairer society where people are properly supported in this vital role. That’s why we’re legislating to give carers new rights in the Care Bill so that, for the first time, they will have a legal right to support for their eligible needs, putting them on the same legal footing as the people they care for.”
The grant will also continue to pay for up to ten regional GP Champions for Carers who will aim to change the culture around identifying carers in primary care by engaging with practices, practice networks, Vocational Training Schemes, clinical commissioning groups, health and wellbeing boards and commissioners in their allocated regions.