Patients prescribed debt advice at Northampton surgeries

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More than 1,500 GP patients in Northamptonshire have been given free advice on financial problems in order to boost their overall health.

Community Law Service’s expert advisors hold regular sessions at three surgeries in Northampton and get referrals from the NHS and councils.

Patients and doctors have been unanimous in their praise for the scheme, which has handled more than £1.8m of debt and shows them how to access grants and other funds they are entitled to but have not been claiming.

One patient said: “I can now move into my newly adapted property and know I can afford my heating.”

Another said: “Funding for a fridge has allowed safe storage of my insulin, my health was at risk without help.”

Feedback has shown the clinics have helped people beat everything from headaches and drinking problems to high blood pressure.

More than eight in 10 people reported an improvement in their health.

Dr Mahesh Dias, of Maple Access Practice in Hazelwood Road, said: “This valuable service has directly helped 156 of our patients who’ve experienced problems with debts, rent arrears, welfare benefits and housing issues, and has helped to address the consequent fuel poverty experienced by them.

“Through this service, by providing flexible clinics within the familiar setting of the GP surgery, Community Law Service advisers are able to support vulnerable people in their hour of need.

“We are very pleased to be able to host this service and would encourage other GP surgeries to consider it.”