The poll, conducted by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) and the Personalised Care Institute (PCI), shows that over the last six months 50% have seen more patients with health issues they fear are caused or exacerbated by money worries.
The results also reveal a rise in the number of patients talking about money problems, with almost half (47%) of health and care professionals reporting an increase over the last six months.
The survey, conducted among 500 patient-facing health and care professionals, also finds that three quarters (76%) believe that talking about money can prevent health issues further down the line.
However, the vast majority of health and care professionals don’t feel equipped to have these conversations, with the main reasons including ‘feeling it’s not their place’ (40%), ‘fear of causing embarrassment’ (34%) and ‘worrying they won’t have the answers’ (20%).
MaPS said the findings were very concerning because money and health are closely linked, meaning problems with one often negatively affects the other and traps people in a vicious cycle. The PCI added that with additional personalised care training, health and care professionals would then have the skills to sensitively and confidently start these conversations and offer people vital support at a time when they need it the most.
As a result, MaPS and the PCI are launching a new ‘Money Talk ToolkitOpens in a new window’ to help health and care professionals to tackle the issue, after three quarters of them (74%) said they would welcome the training.
It provides a collection of free courses and resources, designed to help them to discuss money worries with patients using personalised care approaches that recognise the wider factors, such as financial wellbeing, that can impact on a person’s health.
The two organisations hope to enable health and care professionals to feel confident talking about money and equip them with the personalised care conversation skills they need to help patients who are struggling. This will include recommendations on how to begin the conversation, what information to provide and how to signpost them to the right support.
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.”
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 some, 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 people with the tools to manage their own health and wellbeing.
“This toolkit aims to equip health and care professionals - who are well positioned to have such conversations as they’re among the ‘most trusted’ members of our society - with the knowledge and confidence to sensitively raise the issue of financial wellbeing with patients in order to improve their short and long term health.”