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.