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Legal advice potentially offered in practices: the sector reacts

by Angela Sharda
15 February 2019

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Legal advice could potentially be offered in GP practices, under Government reforms to legal aid.
The Government’s new strategy for legal aid, published last week, said providing the advice at the same site as other services ‘can avoid barriers to support that may arise from multiple referrals between providers’.
Deputy editor Angela Sharda speaks to three different practice managers on their views on the topic. 
The sector reacts
Steve Williams, co-chair, Practice Management Network 
‘We warmly welcome innovation within general practice and working with various aspects of the third sector is well established and will generally fit with local needs.
However, that said, perhaps support for existing organisations such as the Citizen Advice Bureau might be more appropriate.
What happens when the advice needed is about a medical claim?  Space within general practice is at a premium so consideration has to be given to where such services can be effectively housed.
Of course, primary care networks might be considered the ideal vehicle to develop such services in the future.’
Tracy Dell, practice manager, Plane Trees Group Practice
‘Some practices already engage well with advocacy and support  services. The problem is that not all practices have space and some, like us, cannot accommodate them. I am not convinced that legal aid being embedded in practices is the right thing to do.
We are already expected to adopt  lots of other initiatives as pat of the long term plan, so this will put us under even more strain when we are struggling with so many other pressures.    
The best approach would be to support the existing organisation and increase access to these services directly. We could continue to promote and navigate patients and raise awareness at consultations and via social media.’
Daniel Vincent, managing partner, Ryalls Park Medical Centre
‘We would welcome having more services available to our patients in a one stop “health and wellbeing” approach.
We look forward to receiving the reviewed premises directive with a hope that these aspirations will be matched by investment in NHS property expansion and renewal.’
Additional reporting by Anviksha Patel
You can read the full story on our sister site Pulse