February 18th, 2013
Surrey’s GP carer break scheme has reached a major milestone with the announcement of £1million paid out to carers during the first 12 months of the programme’s operation.
Launched by NHS Surrey, in partnership with Action for Carers (Surrey) and Surrey Independent Living Council (SILC) in December 2011, the GP carer break scheme allows GPs to prescribe payments to carers of up to £500 to help pay for a break or replacement care while they take time out from their caring responsibilities, or to buy goods or services which will help take the stress off their caring role. More than 2,000 carers in Surrey have benefitted from a GP break since the scheme began.
NHS Surrey, Action for Carers (Surrey) and SILC issued a joint statement:
“We have all worked hard to make carers and GPs aware of the scheme and to administer the funds. To have achieved payments of £1 million in the first year is not just a major milestone for us but it indicates the level of need among carers and significantly, that GPs are acknowledging this. We are delighted that carers are beginning to get recognition for what they do and an understanding of the pressure that caring can put on their own health and well-being.”
To be eligible for a payment, carers must live in Surrey, be registered with their GP as a carer and be carrying out ‘regular and substantial’ unpaid care. GPs who are registered with the scheme decide whether a carer is eligible for referral depending on clinical need and the resources available. Carers, including young carers under 18 years, may receive up to one payment for a GP break per annum. Any subsequent payments after the initial one are at the sole discretion of the GP.
The scheme has twice been praised by Norman Lamb MP, who described it as an example of Surrey providing “best practice” during a House of Commons debate.