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General practice: new offer for young carers

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One in five young people provide care Up to one in five secondary school pupils provides some level of care for a parent or sibling

NHS England has published a series of plans and actions designed to help young carers who may be ‘hidden’, unpaid and under the age of sixteen.

The measures will see GP practices able to offer more tailored services for carers in their community to ensure carers in every community across the country are being offered high quality support by their local practice.

All GP practices in England will be invited to adopt dedicated measures for carers in their community, including Keeping an up to date carers register, to routinely offer all carers a flu vaccination, regular health check and anxiety and mental health screening; and setting up an alert system to notify all GPs when a carer registers as a patient, to ensure their needs are identified and met by the whole surgery.

‘Thousands of children and young people provide nothing less than life-changing care for their family and deserve in return the best possible support from the NHS and other public services. No young carer should feel they are struggling to cope on their own,’ said Dr Neil Churchill, director for experience, participation and equalities at NHS England.

‘The responsibility of giving care can take a real toll and our Long Term Plan will deliver care for carers that matches the commitment so many young people give their family day in, day out.’

It is estimated that up to one in five secondary school pupils provides some level of care for a parent or sibling. Many of these are ‘hidden’, not disclosing their family circumstance and responsibilities to teachers, friends, GPs and other health care professionals. Plans are also underway for young carers to develop ‘top tips’ for GPs to help 20,000 young people benefit from more proactive care.

‘Unpaid carers are often able to convey a lot to professionals about the health of the person they’re looking after, but sometimes feel their role isn’t fully recognised and are unaware of the support they’re entitled to as a carer. Usually putting their own needs second, their health and wellbeing is often left at risk when they do so much to support others,’ said Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK.

‘Identification of carers of all ages by NHS staff could make a real difference. These measures should help get more carers connected to the right support, as well as help them with important contingency planning for emergencies.’

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