Last year VHS published Gold Star Exemplars , a report into third sector approaches to community link working in Scotland. This was commissioned by the Scottish Government in response to the SNP 2016 election manifesto pledge: ‘Scotland’s most deprived communities need additional support, so we will recruit at least 250 Community Link Workers to work in GP surgeries and direct people to local services and support.’
A year after the VHS report came out there are now 56 community link workers, funded via the Scottish Government and Health and Social Care Partnerships, working in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities. Their purpose is to tackle health inequalities, improve health and well-being and reduce pressure on general practice. To be most effective, community link workers are fully integrated into GP practices, very knowledgeable about local resources and services and highly skilled in empowering and enabling people to identify what most matters to them.
Community link workers are one of the six key services that, in future, will be provided to people in GP practices or GP clusters under the new GP contract. Their roles will be designed, commissioned and planned by Health and Social Care Partnerships. It is envisaged that many link workers will be employed by the third sector.
As a representative of the Scottish Public Health Network (ScotPHN) I was asked by the Scottish Government to continue to support the development and implementation of community link working during 2018/19. The type of support I can offer includes:
- Attending Community Link Working Strategic Groups
- Assessing the scale and nature of local need from a health inequalities perspective
- Sharing experience on how to develop and implement link working to meet that need
- Developing a national support pack which includes guidelines on recruitment and selection, induction and training, data sharing agreements (GPDR compliant), practice agreements, promotional materials and monitoring and evaluation framework
- Supporting local learning events targeting GPs, Health and Social Care Partnerships and link workers, as well as a national virtual link worker network to share learning and resources across Scotland.
If you would like further information about my role, or any support and advice about developing community link working in your local area, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me: Kate.firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate is a Public Health Practitioner (Welfare Reform, Health Literacy, Community Link Workers) based at Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh.
ScotPHN is the national public health network: hosted by NHS Health Scotland, it progresses national public health priorities on behalf of the Scottish Directors of Public Health. VHS represents the voluntary health sector on ScotPHN’s National Advisory Board.