A partnership event at Christ Church Woking has seen the launch of new GP Quality Markers for carer-friendly GP practices. The Markers are an NHS England development aimed at ensuring the health system is more supportive of carers.

It is estimated that 6,000 people take on caring responsibilities every day; looking after a family member or friend with a disability or long term condition, mental health problem or alcohol or substance misuse issue.

The unpaid support carers provide saves health and social care £132 billion a year. GPs are often the first point of contact for carers, which is why they and their practice teams play a pivotal role. However, according to NHS England, more than 90% of carers go unidentified by GPs. As a result carers can miss out on vital support including help for them to maintain their own health and wellbeing.

As part of the ‘Five Year Forward View – Next Steps’ strategy, NHS England has been working with the Royal College of GPs, the Care Quality Commission and partners including the Surrey Carers Team to develop GP Carer Quality Markers.

Carers Lead at NHS England Dave Ross explained to the meeting how GP practices can take a number of easy steps to embed the identification and support of carers within their practice, working with their local carers’ organisations. This will mean more carers are supported earlier and so provide real benefits for carers, patients, and practices alike and helping avoidable costs.

Thirty professionals attended the forum which was chaired by David McNulty, Independent Chair of Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership’s Transformation Board, supported by Dr Sue Tresman, Vice Chair at Guildford and Waverley CCG. The forum was live streamed by Carers World Radio.

One of the unexpected outcomes has been to take forward the proposal to establish a virtual primary care carers lead network to share best practice and provide ‘practice to practice’ peer support.

For more information contact Debbie Hustings, Partnership Manager for Carers, via debbie.hustings@nhs.net.