CHARITY FAMILY LIVES Responds to Midwives, GPs and registrars to help tackle family breakdown (Telegraph, 23/03/14)

“Parent support organisation Family Lives welcomes Iain Duncan Smith's calls to assist GPs, midwives and registrars to help tackle family breakdown.  We have worked with health professionals for many years to help identify hidden family and parenting challenges.  A survey of 1001 regionally representative GPs commissioned by Family Lives found 86% surveyed reported that up to 10 patients per week expressed family and parenting problems as the primary reason for the consultation. Worryingly, only 30% of GPs reported that they refer patients to voluntary organisations who deliver family support services. It would appear that some GPs are spending a lot of surgery time advising patients with non-medical family and parenting concerns rather than signposting them to more appropriate interventions such as that provided by support organisations such as Family Lives.  GPs therefore may benefit from more information, advice and support in all aspects of identifying underlying family relationship problems, across all age ranges not just those vital early years.  We believe engaging with medical practitioners who see families on a daily basis will ensure they are equipped with the requisite information and referral skills to ensure parents in crisis or simply in need of direction are able to access effective family support.” 

Pamela Park, Family Lives

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Family Lives Data

*In October 2011, Family Lives commissioned Doctors.net to undertake an omnibus survey of 1001 regionally representative GPs in the UK to find out more about GPs’ experiences of patients’ family and parenting support needs.

The survey found: 

  • 86% of GPs surveyed reported that up to 10 patients per week expressed family and parenting problems as the primary reason for the consultation.
  • Only 1% of GPs did not think that there was a link between family and parenting problems and the onset of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in parents. It is clear therefore, from the 95% of GPs who thought that the link was very significant, significant and quite significant, that there is a recognition amongst GPs of the importance of identifying and supporting parents with common family and parenting problems.
  • Only 30% of GPs reported that they refer patients to voluntary organisations who deliver family support services
  • 44% of GPs were not aware of NICE guidelines regarding ADHD and child conduct disorders suggest referring parents to approved parenting courses.

GPs surveyed in the report stated that the most common family and parenting issue patients sought support for were:

  • Drug and alcohol use by their child
  • Sleep problems and ‘other’ including toileting issues and bedwetting - autism and behaviour problems also featured in this category
  • Anxiety, depression and the emotional health of their child

Only 40% of GPs reported that patients had access to information in their practice about locally available family and parenting support, with 31% reporting that they did not have such information available to patients, and a further 19% who did not know whether or not this information was available to patients at their practice. GPs working in rural areas were more likely to make this information available to patients (43%) compared to those in urban areas (38%).