Half of health and care professionals report rise in money-related health issues – but majority feel unequipped to have financial conversations

  • 50% of health and care professionals believe that money problems have caused more health issues in the past six months
  • Yet nine out of 10 currently hold back from financial wellbeing conversations as they worry about causing embarrassment or not having the answers
  • Three in four believe supporting patients with money issues earlier may prevent health problems further down the road
  • New ‘Money Talk Toolkit’ launched to train health and care professionals to use personalised care approaches to understand ‘the full story’ and know where to signpost patients

Half of health and care professionals have seen an increase over the last six months in the number of patients presenting with conditions potentially caused or exacerbated by money worries – but nine in 10 (88%) don’t feel equipped to have financial conversations, according to new research. 

Conducted by the Personalised Care Institute (PCI) and the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), the survey revealed that three quarters (76%) believe that supporting patients with money issues earlier could prevent health issues further down the road. 

However, 88% said they feel unequipped to do so for a variety of reasons including ‘feeling it’s not their place’ (40%), ‘fear of causing embarrassment’ (34%) and ‘worrying that they won’t have the answers’ (20%). 

The survey, conducted among 500 patient-facing health and care professionals, found that almost half (46%) reported an increase in the number of patients talking to them about money problems in the last six months. Three quarters of health and care professionals said they would welcome the opportunity to be trained to use personalised care approaches to inform conversations about financial wellbeing with patients. 

In response, the PCI, which provides and accredits personalised care training for health and care professionals, and MaPS, which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions to support money guidance and debt advice, have pooled their expertise to launch the Money Talk Toolkit.

Recognising that health needs can often arise from circumstances beyond the purely medical is a key principle of personalised care, and the ‘Money Talk Toolkit’ has been created to equip health and care professionals with the personalised care conversation skills they need to help patients who are struggling.

It offers a collection of free training and resources on how to begin the conversation, what information to provide and how to signpost patients to effective support. It’s designed for all health and care professionals, including the many social prescribing link workers and health and wellbeing coaches in GP practices across England who are already supporting people to address wider determinants of health such as financial issues and are helping them to access relevant support and advice in the community. 

Dr Sam Finnikin, a GP in Sutton Coldfield and a National Clinical Specialist Advisor in Personalised Care for NHS England, as well as the Chair of the Personalised Care Institute, said: 

“It is, unfortunately, increasingly common that people come and see me whose health is being badly affected by their difficult financial situation. As a doctor, it is frustrating that the traditional approaches we have don’t adequately address the problems our patients’ face. This toolkit presents a whole host of information and resources that I was previously unaware of, that will really help me guide my patients to tackle what is important to them, and hopefully improve their financial situation, health and wellbeing.”

Dr Emma Hyde, Clinical Director for the Personalised Care Institute, said: 

“Health and care professionals are seeing first-hand how financial wellbeing impacts on health and yet the vast majority, understandably, lack confidence in having these types of conversations with their patients because they are worried about inadvertently making things worse.

“However, if we are to move to a sustainable model of preventative healthcare, then person-centred conversations that are designed to understand all aspects of a person’s life are crucial to equipping them with the tools to manage their own health and wellbeing. 

“Personalised care, which is core to the NHS’ modern approach to healthcare, encourages a holistic approach to supporting people and the ability to recognise the wider factors at play – like financial wellbeing – that can influence health outcomes. By doing this effectively, we empower patients with more choice and control over their health and wellbeing.

“Health and care professionals are regularly found to be among the ‘most trusted’ members of our society and the NHS is our most trusted institution, so who better to sensitively raise the issue of financial wellbeing with patients in order to optimise health. Through the introduction of the Money Talk Toolkit, we hope to empower health and care workers to do exactly that, supporting them to have these important and never more timely personalised care conversations with patients.”

Sarah Murphy, Health and Social Care Lead at MaPS, said:

“We’re seeing more and more evidence that suggests there’s no health without financial health and this is really concerning.

“When someone’s struggling to keep up financially, the knock-on effects for their physical health can be severe. They may struggle to attend medical appointments or pay for prescriptions, while some can end up living in damp or otherwise unsuitable conditions, all of which can have long term consequences for their wellbeing. It can also affect their mental health, trapping people in a vicious cycle where money and health problems both continue to spiral. 

“Half of health and care professionals say this is increasing, but many don’t feel comfortable raising the topic so we need to act now. By providing the right training and resources, we can help them direct patients straight to the financial support they so desperately need.”

To access the free Money Talk Toolkit for health and care professionals, visit the Money Talk page on on the PCI’s website: https://www.personalisedcareinstitute.org.uk/money-talk

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