The recently published Government’s new strategy for legal aid is proposing that patients can access advice within GP practices.
The new Legal Support Action Plan strategy, drawn up by the Ministry of Justice, said: ‘Co-located legal support services may help people with multiple, linked, or difficult to diagnose legal problems, and can avoid barriers to support that may arise from multiple referrals between providers.
‘Alongside our work to improve signposting and co-ordination of legal support online and by telephone, we want to assess and collect evidence as to whether the co-location of support services offers cost effective solutions to people’s problems.
‘We have heard concerns about people not knowing necessarily where to seek support, and we think there could be benefits to people from better co-ordination of face-to-face support services.’
The PMA understand the sentiment but with very limited space in most GP practices, would have thought this isn’t going to fit. Better to have excellent signposting for people to get to the right place rather than send them via general practice. The key here is to develop a sort of ‘campus’ mentality. It’s not about physical co-location but joined-up services with suitable care navigation software that helps patients access the support they need themselves. Practices can then focus on ensuring that only patients who really need to see a clinician end up in front of one.
Perhaps this might even be a better fit for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau than general practice.