Northamptonshire Carers has been working with GP practices for more than 15 years.  The project was initially a pilot funded by the Department of Health with the aim of encouraging all staff at practices to be aware of carers, to register them and, if they agreed, to refer on to us.  The point was to find “hidden carers”;  and thereby connect with carers who do not know about Northamptonshire Carers and the help and support  we can offer.  This is still important today as there are thousands of unidentified carers out there who may need help and support.

As referrals increased we were able to show GP’s that they also benefit from patients involvement with our services, as evidence from a Carers Trust survey shows that carers receiving support are less likely to go back to the GP with stress and anxiety.  After a modest start when we worked with 12 practices, the vast majority of practices across the county now refer into us regularly.  Also, GPs now need to achieve Northamptonshire Carers Investors in Carers Award as part of their contracts with the NHS.  To achieve the first step of the Awards a surgery needs to evidence that they have a worker dedicated to carers issues, all practice staff need to be aware of the services Northamptonshire Carers offer and have an understanding of the pressures and stresses involved in being a carer.


Once registered with the GP surgery carers can be offered:

  • Free flu jabs
  • Be offered flexibility with appointments and home visits wherever possible
  • Regular health checks


We are continuously working with GP’s to support them in identifying patients who are carers and in encouraging them to refer on to our services.  We are currently encouraging surgeries to ask if a new patient is a carer when they register, adopt an alert system so they can instantly see a patient is in a caring role. This means that a receptionist should be able to see that they are a carer straight away.  We run carer awareness sessions and workshops regularly across the county at practices and on line.


Can you help me get an appointment?


Unfortunately not!!  However, it is always worth asking if the practice can offer some flexibility if you are having issues due to your caring role, e.g. because you cannot ring at a certain time, its difficult for you to get to surgery to pick up prescriptions etc.


How does your work with GPs help me?


The main way the work helps carers is in putting people who have never heard of Northamptonshire Carers in touch with us so that they can access our services.

In addition over the years we have encouraged GPs:

- to put the fact that a patient is a carer or has a carer onto their medical records so that the patient doesn’t need to explain every time.

- to put up posters about local support groups in their waiting rooms

- to share information with carers

- hold coffee mornings and information sessions


What are the GP Awards? What do they have to do to achieve an Award?


The awards were originally a way of acknowledging what some practices were putting into working with carers.  From 2022 achieving the first standard has been part of the GP contract.  The scheme has 4 levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Gold Plus.  The Bronze level is really about putting systems in place to identify and register carers and to refer on to us if appropriate.  The levels then ask more of the practices right up to Gold Plus which asks them to tell us what they have done for carers in their area.  We currently have 2 practices in the county who have achieved Gold plus.

Jargon Busting

Primary Care is the first point of contact in the health system.  This includes General Practitioner (GP), community pharmacy, dentists and opticians.

Any Primary Care practitioner can make a referral on to Secondary Care which is hospital care, can either be planned (elective) such as a cataract operation or urgent and emergency care e.g. following an accident.  Tertiary Care refers to highly specialized treatment such as neurosurgery, transplants and secure mental health services.

Clinical Staff any staff who have face to face contact with patients, e.g. doctors, nurses, physiotherapists

PCN or Primary Care Network Your GP is part of the local Primary Care Network (PCN).  The network involves a number of GP practices working together with mental health, social care, pharmacy and voluntary service.  

A PCN usually has a total number of patients of around 30,000 to 50,000 people.  In Northamptonshire some consist of 2 or 3 practices whilst Wellingborough PCN covers all the practices in Wellingborough.  The aim is that they are small enough to provide appropriate care for the local population but large enough to have economies of scale.

Integrated Care Board  Sitting next in line “above”  the PCN is the Integrated Care Board or ICB.  In Northamptonshire this is referred to as the ICN or Integrated Care Northamptonshire.  The ICN decides how the NHS budget for their area is spent and develop a plan to improve people’s health, deliver higher-quality care and better value for money

Integrated Care System or ICS is a partnership of organisations that work together to deliver health and care services, and to improve the lives of people who live in their area.  This would include Northamptonshire Carers in this county.

Continuing Health Care (CHC)  you may have heard of CHC or CHC funding.  This is a package of  health and social care provided at home or in a care home, which is arranged and funded by the NHS. People who receive CHC are usually people with long-term complex needs such as being very disabled following a stroke.  It is not dependant on a particular disease or disability but whether or not the patient meets the criteria following an in-depth assessment.  A CHC package is completely free and there is no financial contribution as with a social care package.

Social Prescribing the majority of GP practices now have a Social Prescribing Link Worker attached to them.  You could be referred for Social Prescribing if you have a problem which is not only medical.  If you are socially isolated, depressed or needing advice on eating and cooking.  A social prescriber could put you in touch with volunteering, groups, art classes, walking groups etc.  




National Health Service


General Practitioner


Advanced Nurse Practitioner


Primary Care Network


Integrated Care Northamptonshire


Diabetes Specialist Nurse


Health Care Support Worker


Improving Access to Psychological Services


Learning Disability


Out of Hours


Older Persons Mental Health


Individual Plan for Care and Treatment


Advanced care plan


Patient participation group

EOL/Palliative Care

End of Life Care