Supporting people with non-clinical needs to reduce or prevent inappropriate use of primary care

In 2018 South Warwickshire introduced place-based teams (PBTs) to support people with non-clinical needs to reduce or prevent inappropriate use of primary care. SQW undertook a qualitative evaluation of the PBTs, in particular the multi-disciplinary teams (MDT) that sat within each PBT. The MDTs brought together healthcare professionals and representatives from other statutory and voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations within the local area. Patients were referred to the MDT if they were considered to have a social need that was affecting or might affect their health. The varied professional expertise and networks of the MDT were utilised to identify appropriate solutions for the patient.

The evaluation found that the MDTs were largely functioning as intended (although they had to be adapted to working under Covid restrictions) and there were positive reports of outcomes for patients. However, referrals were lower than expected due to: lack of capacity to engage by referrers; some lack of awareness on the part of potential referrers; and preference among referrers to use other services.

The evaluation concluded that the most efficient and effective way to meet need was for MDTs to adapt to local circumstances based on: the nature and scale of unmet need locally; capacity and willingness among local services to be involved and/or support the MDT; fit with other similar initiatives; options to support ongoing staff attendance, for example use of virtual working; and routes to efficiently maintain knowledge of the support landscape.

The full report is available here.