Carers are being forgotten by GPs, says Sheffield watchdog

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Carers are not getting enough support from GPs with their own health and wellbeing, according to a Sheffield watchdog.

Carers’ needs are often overlooked, despite them attending many medical appointments with the person they are looking after, says Healthwatch Sheffield.

Its survey found two-thirds of people had to keep telling staff they were a carer.

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One said: “In eight years of going to the surgery I have no relationship with any GP and no-one I’ve seen more than once.

Healthwatch Sheffield surveyed carers about their experiences with GPsHealthwatch Sheffield surveyed carers about their experiences with GPs
Healthwatch Sheffield surveyed carers about their experiences with GPs

“There is no continuity of care or relationship. It is clear when I do go that they’ve not even looked at my records before I go in the room.”

Another person said: “Some, but not all, nurses and doctors at the surgery remind me to make appointments for things like smear tests, blood pressure, asthma etc. because they understand that I may not remember because of my caring role.”

Less than a fifth were offered regular health checks and only 18 per cent were asked about feeling stressed, anxious or depressed.

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And only about a third were offered flexible appointment times working around their caring role.

One person said: “There is not really any support for me or my wellbeing, despite the fact that I am a regular face at the surgery with the person I care for.”

Healthwatch said some carers got help and support which could be put in place more consistently across the city.

Its report said: “These included allowing other people to collect prescriptions on their behalf, offering telephone appointments and building a trusted relationship with a consistent care provider who could regularly check in about their mental health, remind them about support and other services they needed such as flu vaccines and health checks.”

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Healthwatch spoke to 134 carers from 49 different GP practices. The average age was 46 with the youngest respondent under 10 and the oldest over 80.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.