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Carers' Information Service calls for GPs to support unpaid carers

Thousands of Croydon’s carers are not being told about vital support services they are entitled to by their GP, according to a new report launched by the Carers’ Information Service.

More than 80% of GPs are not telling carers about the support available to them, with 59% not being informed about the NHS Health Check and over a third not being offered an annual flu jab.

The report coincides with Carers Week, the national campaign to raise awareness of the 6.5 million people who are caring for a friend or family member due to illness, disability or old age across the UK, 33,000 of whom live in Croydon.

Carers Week was officially launched in Croydon by the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Toni Letts OBE, on Monday 12 June at the Carers Support Centre in George Street. Throughout the week, carers can attend a wide range of events at the Carers Support Centre, including massage, singing, talks, afternoon tea and an information day.

The report calls on GPs to take simple steps to help carers to stay fit and well and recommendations include asking patients if they are carers on registration forms, providing regular check-ups, offering more flexible appointments and working with local carer organisations to provide support.

Local GPs and carers are invited to attend a talk on the report’s findings at the Carers Support Centre on Thursday 15 June, 10.30am - 12.30pm.

Carers can access support throughout the year at the Carers Support Centre, a drop-in carers’ centre in George Street. The centre is run by the Carers’ Information Service, part of The Whitgift Foundation.

Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Toni Letts OBE, said: “As a former carer for my late husband I know about the times in the middle of the night when a loved one is in pain, can't sleep, is weak - you feel so isolated and challenged.

But there is also laughter, a friendly phone call, respite or someone offering to take on the caring duties so you can walk in the park or go to the hairdressers. It’s one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done.

The voluntary services in Croydon are a lifeline to carers and Carers Week is just one of the ways to say a most sincere thank you to carers for everything you do”.

Helen Thompson, Carers’ Information Service Manager, said: “It’s concerning that so many carers are forced to face the daily challenges of caring alone. That’s why this Carers Week we are calling on GPs and other local services to be more carer aware and to provide carers with the information and support they so desperately need. Working together, we can build a carer friendly Croydon.”

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, Assistant Clinical Chair at Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, said: “We are taking this opportunity to remind all GPs about the support available for carers from both the NHS and more widely across Croydon.  It is vital that we work together to recognise the stress and strain associated with caring responsibilities on many individuals in our communities.  We will encourage local GPs to proactively support their patients and inform them about the services available to both carers and the people they care for in the borough.”

Pratima Solanki, Director of Adult Social Care & All Age Disability, said: “I am passionate about supporting carers in Croydon and am keen to see us work together to ensure we have a carer friendly community in Croydon that helps support carers to live independently. Looking forward, we will work with carers to coproduce our joint health and social care Carers Strategy 2017-2021 to ensure that the voice of carers is at the heart of everything we do.”

Note to editors

About the report

Not Just a Patient: GP Support for Carers in Croydon is based on the results of a survey of 205 carers published by the Carers’ Information Service: Report Summary and Full Report.

About the Carers’ Information Service

The Carers’ Information Service provides information, advice and support to unpaid carers in Croydon who look after someone who needs help due to illness, disability or old age. They run the Carers Support Centre, a drop-in centre for carers in George Street, Croydon Town Centre open Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm. Contact the service on 020 8649 9339 (option 1), visit www.carersinfo.org.uk or email info@carersinfo.org.uk.

The Carers’ Information Service is part of The Whitgift Foundation. The Whitgift Foundation, established in 1596 by Archbishop John Whitgift, is a registered charity with the aim of providing education and care in Croydon and the surrounding areas. 

About Carers Week

Carers Week will take place from 12-18 June 2017, across the UK. Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers: www.carersweek.org.

The Carers Support Centre is running a range of wellbeing and information events throughout Carers Week: www.carersinfo.org.uk/whats-on/carers-week

What is a carer?

A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a friend, neighbour, partner or family member who needs support due to illness, disability or old age.

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