GPs need more incentives to identify carers, not fewer

GP and carerOne of the things we know about carers is that many often don’t recognise themselves as being one — in other words, they don’t realise that they are a carer. They don’t know about available help until quite late on, often after their own health and wellbeing has become badly affected.

Especially for adult carers, we know that the one service they are almost bound to come into contact with is GPs, if not for their own health then for the health of the people they are caring for. So it makes sense that GPS should identify carers and refer them to their local carers organisation for support.

That’s all they really have to do. It’s as straightforward as saying: “Well Mrs McGonigle, you’re doing a brilliant job of looking after your husband but I’m wondering whether there are things we could do to help you too. Did you know there’s a Carers’ Centre that can give you some help? Here’s the number. Why don’t you call them? And I can add you to my list so we can make sure we support you as a carer.” Sounds simple, huh?

Simple as it is, it often just doesn’t happen.  GP surgeries get a payment for having a carers’ register. 10% of the population are carers  — however, even when GPs are being proactive, it’s rare for a practice to have more than 3% of their list registered as carers.

Signs of progress

Across the country, Carers’ Centres and Crossroads schemes work with GPs surgeries to provide them with what they need to support carers better, and real progress has been made. The Government put some cash into this, and Carers Trust has been working with The Royal College of GPs and Carers UK to build better awareness.

For those of you who work for a Carers Trust network partner liaising with GPs surgeries, you can join our Facebook group where staff in similar roles share good ideas and support each other.

But things are changing. The indicator which means GPs get rewarded financially for having a carers register (QOF Management Standard 9 I believe) is being removed. Something similar will stay for carers of people with dementia, and it is suggested that they will also get a health check.

Getting GP practices engaged with carers

This is great, but what about everyone else? There are plans to put the requirement to identify carers in the outcomes indicators for Clinical Commissioning Groups but it’s not clear to me what teeth this will have, or whether practices will just be able to ignore it with impunity.

The current system isn’t great. It’s not well used, and it means GPs can identify a few carers, put them on a list and then do nothing to support them. But at least they do have to come up with some evidence at some point that they have met the outcome and they do it because there’s money attached.

It gives local carers’ organisations the hook they need to get GP practices talking to them. If the CCG outcome indicators have no teeth, that will be a step backwards. We need to know more.


February 8, 2013 - Posted by | Health, Uncategorized | , ,


  1. Sadly, GPs are so overstretched that unless there’s a significant financial incentive, they won’t do anything. A poor excuse, I know, but it’s reality. However, I generally disagree with giving financial incentives – identifying and providing information to carers about local services available to them should be a matter of good health practice, not a way to rake in more cash. There are great GPs and practice staff out there, we need to find constructive and easy ways for them to share the experience and benefits of looking after carers better.

    Comment by M Williams | February 8, 2013 | Reply

    • “There are great GPs and practice staff out there, we need to find constructive and easy ways for them to share the experience and benefits of looking after carers better.”
      Hahaha, I seem to have missed something this past 80 years, and more so since 1995 when I became a full time carer to my `invisible` wife and I after her devastating brain embolism, to this very day ! Dream on :O)

      Comment by john worthington | February 12, 2013 | Reply

  2. This is one of the most important issues for carers and doctors. My doctor,s surgey are very good but not all are the same. For many years i struggled and now as a result i have been diagnosed as clinacally depressed,but thanks to my doctor i recieved the proper counselling and i am on medication which does help.
    I WANT THIS TO BE THE SAME FOR ALL CARERS before they land up with the same problems i have.
    This is an issue that cannot be ignored, nor is it something which will cost the nation a fortune,but the good it will do for CARERS and the disabled will be priceless.
    I therefore BEG PLEAD URGE all surgeries and commissioning groups to
    DO THEY KNOW THERE IS HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Taras Kurylak | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  3. Perhaps the GP;s are aware the so called ‘services’ are nothing more than an organisations which signposts carers to the cheaper option.If I go to the GP i expect the same care as anyone else .If they passed my details to a charity i would sue for breaking confidentiality.I will not be used to endorse the existence of quango services..The money should go directly to carers .

    Comment by acarercornwall999 | February 12, 2013 | Reply

    • Many voluntary sector carers services are user led organisations managed and directed by carers themselves – in no way can they be described as ‘quango services’

      Comment by gf | February 14, 2013 | Reply

  4. Reblogged this on sincereblogdotcom.

    Comment by antoniasincere | February 13, 2013 | Reply

  5. Being very aware of the need to increase GPs awareness of carers, last year, Carers Hub Lambeth undertook a large scale excercise and contacted all 52 practices in Lambeth and followed up with a visit to the majority of them to highlight the need for a carers register and to raise the awareness of the needs of carers. This is being followed up by members of the Lambeth Patient Particiapation Group Network keeping carers high on the GPs agendas and continuing to increase awareness at every opportunity in forums such as the Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group and Health and Wellbeing Board.
    For more information contact Robert Hill at Lambeth Mencap.

    Comment by Robert Hill | February 15, 2013 | Reply

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