‘Care for young carers’ offer in GP surgeries

As part of Carers Week, NHS England has outlined a series of practical plans and actions designed to help young carers who may be ‘hidden’, unpaid and under the age of sixteen.

The proposals will see family doctors across the country volunteer to offer a new package of services for children and young adults who perform an informal caring role for a family member. This includes priority appointments for carers, home visits, additional mental health checks, and ‘double appointments’ for the carer and those they provide care for.

These will based on national proposals and assessed against six ‘Quality Markers’, to ensure carers in every community across the country are being offered high quality support by their local practice.

All GP practices in England will be invited to adopt dedicated measures for carers in their community, including: keeping an up to date carers register, to routinely offer all carers a flu vaccination, regular health check and anxiety and mental health screening; setting up an alert system to notify all GPs when a carer registers as a patient, to ensure their needs are identified and met by the whole surgery; hosting carer support groups and carer clinics in GP surgeries, so young people can get practical carer and health advice at the same time, with other carers; and practices setting up systems to track patterns of appointments in young people coming to the surgery with an adult, to proactively try to identify young carers and put support in place.

Barnardo’s and Carers Trust have both released research which highlights a host of challenges young people face in juggling their caring role with their education and own health, with up to 40 per cent experiencing mental health problems.

Neil Churchill, director for experience, participation and equalities at NHS England, said: “Thousands of children and young people provide nothing less than life-changing care for their family and deserve in return the best possible support from the NHS and other public services. No young carer should feel they are struggling to cope on their own. The responsibility of giving care can take a real toll and our Long Term Plan will deliver care for carers that matches the commitment so many young people give their family day in, day out.”

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