It has been shown that good advice can improve health outcomes, which can save the NHS a lot of money. Good advice can help to improve people's living conditions, which can have positive effects on physical health (e.g. by helping people to obtain suitable accommodation or repairs to their property). People feel reduced stress once issues have been resolved or they find a way forward with a problem. This can improve mental health outcomes and reduce anxiety and depression. This, in turn, can remove barriers to engaging in healthy behaviours such as giving up smoking and exercising more.
Because of this, we have worked with Cambridge City Council and the NHS to set up an outreach advice service at East Barnwell Medical Centre (in the Abbey ward). It is important to provide outreach for people suffering with health issues, as they are less likely to travel to our local office for help because they may not be well enough.
Our Outreach Advice service at East Barnwell has been running since May 2015. It has become a busy and effective service that has seen some extremely positive outcomes for patients. Most clients have been referred for our support by their GPs and there have also been a large number of self-referrals. The most common enquiry areas that we have helped with have been houisng and debt.
The service has become so successful that we have been provided with funding to open outreach services at three more medical centres. The location of these centres is still to be confirmed.