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More than 700 Thamesmead residents benefit as scheme cuts GP waiting times

PUBLISHED: 12:30 24 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:30 24 June 2016

Some of the volunteers and partners involved in the scheme

Some of the volunteers and partners involved in the scheme

Archant

Positive Steps Thamesmead provides volunteer support from a GP practice

More than 700 people in Thamesmead have benefited from a pioneering social wellbeing project that has cut GP waiting times.

The Positive Steps Thamesmead project was set up after Lakeside Medical Practice identified a high number of patients visiting their GP for non-medical issues.

It involved placing 16 fully trained volunteer advisers in the medical practice to help people with issues around employment and training, health and wellbeing, debt and fuel poverty.

The advice given by the volunteers means people are better able to seek help from other support services, and the scheme has led to fewer people going to see their GP.

One resident, Mrs B, told a volunteer that her family’s finances had been hit when her husband’s disability benefit was suspended at short notice.

The advice, information and support given by the volunteers led to the benefits being reinstated and backdated, easing the financial burden.

Positive Steps Thamesmead was run by a range of partners and led by Trust Thamesmead, which is part of housing provider Peabody Group.

Peabody chief executive Stephen Howlett said: “Positive Steps Thamesmead is a great example of what can be achieved by a joined-up, partnership approach to supporting people. Our volunteers tackle sensitive and often complicated issues Thamesmead residents face on a daily basis which has had a huge, positive impact on many residents lives.

“The fact it has also helped to cut waiting times at Lakeside Medical Practice also means residents are getting to see their GP quicker which can only have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

“What our achievements have highlighted though is the level of support and the issues that residents are facing and we know there are plenty of others who we haven’t yet identified. We want to let Thamesmead residents know that the support is out there.”

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