Public Health England, the public health watchdog, has suggested that GPs should advise on financial matters from their surgeries. This is an attempt to to combat the stress caused by money and debt which can be harmful for patients.

According to Duncan Selbie, the watchdog’s chief executive, monetary worries and fixing them should be a doctor’s concern because of the ill effects they can have are “getting in the way” of the good health of people.

He also compared the suggestion to doctor’s advising their patients against smoking and drinking if debt or money become significant problems.

Selbie suggested that GPs could prescribe appointments with advisors for their patients to help them get back in control of their cash. He claims this will save huge sums of money as it could stop the need for care linked to stress in the future.

The doctors themselves are not convinced though. They say the idea is not “feasible or appropriate”. The chairman of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Maureen Baker, said that patients would feel like the financial advice was being “forced on them”.

She also said: “Doctors are skilled and trained to diagnose and treat illness; this is what our patients rely on and expect from us, and it is important that this remains our main priority.”

A spokesman for the British Medical Association also suggested that the majority of doctor’s practices will not even have the available resources to offer the service.

Photo from Seattle Municipal Archive.