Charity support hub hailed in new report

5 December 2023

The Royal Free Charity has been highlighted in a new report about how the UK’s health and care system needs a more collaborative approach to supporting vulnerable patients.

The charity’s support hub features as a case study in the report which was funded by the Mayor of London.

The report, by Bromley of Bow Insights, highlights the benefits of collaboration between the healthcare, local authority, and advice sectors to support the most vulnerable patients and families struggling on low income.

Jon Spiers, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “Our welfare rights advisers supported 342 patients last year. Most patients were referred by a hospital clinician who had concerns about the impact of their living circumstances and financial situation on their health. In some cases, patients were facing homelessness.

“The benefits of welfare rights advice based onsite in an NHS hospital can not be overstated. Patients dealing with life-threatening or life-changing conditions have enough challenges without the added complexity of the UK’s housing system or a bureaucratic struggle to access benefits to which they are entitled. Those benefits are often the difference between patients being able to eat or pay their rent.

“The service we provide removes barriers to accessing good health for those families who suffer the greatest health inequalities, seamlessly integrating socio-economic support into patient care. For example, often the patients we’ve helped tell us that thanks to our support they can afford heating or fresh food.

“At a time of increasing demand and challenge for the NHS, supporting people to better health is ever more important.”

The charity’s support hub, established in 2018, is a unique hospital-based service, providing support to the patients and staff of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
The report’s insights underscore the profound link between social welfare advice and improved health outcomes, illuminating its role in alleviating stress, managing debts, and securing housing rights.

It reinforces the power of collaboration between healthcare providers and advice services in ensuring timely assistance for communities facing multiple health and social obstacles.

The report in full can be read at the Bromley by Bow website: News and Resources – Reducing health inequities in London by improving access to social welfare advice.