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Just what the doctor ordered - carer mum is the 1,000th to receive a GP break in Surrey

Merrow mum GillyWalker is the 1,000th carer to be prescribed a Surrey GP Carer Break under a scheme launched by NHS Surrey, in partnership with Surrey Independent Living Council (SILC) and Action for Carers (Surrey) last December. Thanks to the scheme, Gilly, who is a carer for her profoundly disabled daughter Roxanne, 18, will take a few days much-deserved break with husband Keith, a retired City worker.

Merrow mum GillyWalker is the 1,000th carer to be prescribed a Surrey GP Carer Break under a scheme launched by NHS Surrey, in partnership with Surrey Independent Living Council (SILC) and Action for Carers (Surrey) last December.

Thanks to the scheme, Gilly, who is a carer for her profoundly disabled daughter Roxanne, 18, will take a few days much-deserved break with husband Keith, a retired City worker.

The Carers’ Breaks scheme allowsGPs to prescribe payments of up to £500, which can either be used to pay for replacement care while they take time out from their caring responsibilities, or to buy goods or services which will help take the stress off their caring role.To be eligible for a payment, carers must be registered with their GP as a carer in Surrey. GPs who are registered with the schemedecide how much to pay,depending on clinical need and the resources available.

For Gilly and Keith, who received the maximum payment of £500, it means they can pay for Roxanne to be cared for by specialist staff at The Children’s Trust in Tadworth while they enjoy a long weekend away.

Roxanne was born with arthrogryposis- multiplex congenita, a rare condition which has left her with little movement, noformal speech and total dependency on others for her care and well-being. 

As primary carers for Roxanne, Gilly and Keith – who have two other adult daughters, Nikki and Jessica – are on call 24 hours a day and have little time to themselves.

“Because Roxy has such intensive medical needs, it takes two people to look after her”,  explained Gilly, “ Keith and I rarely get quality time together and just being able to sit down quietly together and each read a book is a novelty.

“It’s so exciting to be able to look forward to having a few days away together.” 

Gillyapproached her GP about the scheme after reading about it in a Surrey Independent Living Council newsletter. “It was really easy. There was no form-filling and it wasn’t means-tested. The cheque arrived really quickly. I would say to any carer out there to ask their GP if they can be considered.”

Stephen Pugsley, Carer Support Adviser (GP Programme) at Surrey Independent Living Council said: “I have talked with most of the 1000 carers that the GP scheme has made a payment to. Although each carer is unique, they all have one thing in common – each is a carer in need. The scheme has, quite simply, acknowledged this.”

Action for Carers (Surrey) has been pivotal in ensuring that GPs are aware of the scheme and in spreading the word to engourage carers to register with their GP and be officially recognised as a carer.

“Our team of dedicated GP recognition workers have worked tirelessly to get GPs on board but it is equally important that carers register as carers with their GPs so that they can become eligible for what is on offer”, said Jane Thornton, Chief Executive for Action for Carers (Surrey).

Debbie Hustings, Surrey NHS Partnership Manager for Carers,added: “Many carers find their health suffers as a direct consequence of the physical or emotional strains of caring. The impact on a carer’s health and well-being, finances and relationships cannot be underestimated and this scheme is invaluable in helping to ensure carers in the county get a break. It’s great that 1,000 carers in Surrey have already benefitted and we look forward to supporting many more carers in future.”

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