A PIONEERING project which sees dedicated link workers attached to GP surgeries is making a huge difference for vulnerable patients.

Inverclyde’s community link workers got together for a second birthday celebration at the Beacon Arts Centre and showcased what the team has accomplished so far.

Guests at the bash learned about the positive impact the seven-strong team have had on the lives of GP patients, as they continue to strengthen connections between the community and primary care.

They were recruited by CVS Inverclyde at the end of 2017, with funding from the Scottish Government and Inverclyde health and social care partnership.

It was part of a national scheme to introduce different skills into medical practices locally.

The team work with patients who have social challenges which may affect their health or are already impacting upon their wellbeing.

The system is designed to help alleviate some of the pressures felt by busy GPs and is already paying dividends.

Charlene Elliott, chief executive of CVS Inverclyde, said: “By the very nature of the programme, the community link workers have far longer to spend with patients and bring great skills in motivating and supporting people towards a more positive outcome.

“They also have a valuable understanding of the many local services where people can go for help.

"Thanks to their extensive community engagement over the past two years, the team have also helped people become more integrated and, therefore, far less lonely.”

Health chiefs have praised the team for the impact they have made on the lives of individuals.

Dr Hector Macdonald, clinical director of Inverclyde HSCP, said: “With a typical GP appointment of only ten minutes, there is not always enough time for them to fully explore what can be complex social issues that often lie behind a health problem.

"The concept behind the link workers is to support patients who present at their GP due to problems that are causing, or worsening, a health condition.

“The team have had a significant, positive impact over the last two years, with referrals made by GPs, practice nurses and receptionists.

"If patients want to speak directly with one of them, they can also phone the surgery and ask for a call back.

"They have proven to be valuable members of the primary care team over that time.”

The seven link workers led by Valerie Campbell are Brenda Cox, Elaine McKendrick, Fiona Sinclair, Laura McCammond, Margaret Mitchell and Tracy Gilmour and they are based across all GP practices in Inverclyde.

Amongst others benefiting from their help are people who aren’t getting enough physical exercise, those struggling to cope with the social effects of a health condition, such as diabetes or asthma, or a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition.

They have also been signposting those with debt or money problems to appropriate services.


Picture caption (from left): Vicki Cloney, Inverclyde HSCP Partnership Facilitator (with her assistance dog Alena); Fiona Sinclair; Laura McCammond; Elaine McKendrick; Valerie Campbell; Margaret Mitchell; Dr Hector Macdonald; Provost Martin Brennan; Tracey Gilmour; Charlene Elliott; and Brenda Cox.