To the volunteers and staff at Dorset Cancer Advocacy who are offering peer advocacy support to older people affected by cancer, in order to give them ‘voice, choice and control’, it is very clear why our working in partnership with health professionals would benefit patients. To health professionals focusing on clinical outcomes it may not be so clear why they should work in partnership with voluntary sector organisations.
Ways for individual health professionals to take action on health inequalities and how they might do this through using the resources provided by voluntary sector organisations is a theme running through the March 2013 report from UCL Institute of Health Equity: Working for Health Equity: The Role of Health Professionals.
Three extracts from the Executive Summary highlight the importance of the issue:
Workforce education and training
Key recommendations: Communication, partnership and advocacy skills will help professionals to tackle the social determinants of health…specific practice-based skills, such as taking a social history and referring patients to non-medical services…should be embedded in teaching courses.
Working with individuals and communities
Individual health professionals can tackle the social determinants of health by helping to create the conditions in which their patients have control over their lives. Giving information that can help to improve the social determinants of health mainly consists of referring patients to non-medical services. These should cover a broad range of sectors and issues, beyond lifestyle and disease management programmes….Such activity may reduce the number of consultations with and prescriptions from GPs.
Workforce as advocates
Professionals can use their understanding of the factors that are influencing a patient’s health, and act as advocate in order to help these patients to access services both within and outside the health service.
Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Cancer Advocacy