Health workers could hunt for patients in South Tyneside bingo halls and social clubs

Health workers could head to bingo halls and social clubs in a bid to track down patients missing out on treatments.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 6:51 pm
Health workers could hunt for patients in South Tyneside bingo halls and social clubs

The initiative is part of a new approach in South Tyneside to help people living with long term conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, get the support they need.

The strategy for the borough includes access the ‘health coaches’, who can help them and their families access services they may not be aware exist or realise they can access.

But health chiefs also acknowledge one of their biggest barriers to making the scheme work is ensuring more than just the ‘usual suspects’ who regularly attend their GP surgery are aware of it.

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“One member of the team has been to the bingo and to social clubs to try and connect with people we don’t normally connect with,” said Dr David Julien, clinical director at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

He added: “It’s been about becoming embedded in practices and in clinical pathways, so if you see a doctor or a nurse and you’re eligible then they will make a referral, it’s about changing the behaviours of existing teams.

“The next phase is about collating stories of successes and sharing those and there is a working group looking at exactly that and making sure those stories resonate with our different audiences.”

Dr Julien was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s People Select Committee on Tuesday, November 19.

It is estimated that about a quarter of people living in South Tyneside are currently dealing at least two long term health conditions.

This can include a variety of issues, from diseases such as cancer and HIV to physical impairments such as blindness and joint problems, but it is hopped access to health coaches under the ‘Better U’ scheme could see patients given more appropriate care.

Dr Julien said: “When we have a two step process from GP to consultant you’re more likely to have an intervention once you’ve seen the consultant.

“The idea of an intermediate stage, where maybe you see a physiotherapist whose expertise is in that part of the body and who can identify whether you need to see a consultant or whether you will get benefit from something else.

“As a former GP I know a physio has more expertise in musculoskeletal than I do.”