Stress
People who are stressed about money should receive more help from GPs, said public health chief.

The chief executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie, has called upon GPs to offer financial counselling to patients made ill by their money worries.

Selbie told the Telegraph that doctors should intervene in their patient's financial concerns, much like they would with smokers or alcoholics, and "prescribe" appointments with financial advisors where necessary.

He said remedial intervention at an early stage would reduce the need for expensive health care further down the line.

Selbie referred to a scheme in Derbyshire, where GP practices have a weekly clinic operated by the Citizens Advice Bureaux to ensure people have access to help, which can resolve stressful issues such as housing, employment and benefits problems.

However, Dr Maureen Baker, chairman of the Royal College of GP's, said it is neither feasible nor practical to offer this type of service, especially when the UK's GPs are already stretched.

She told the Telegraph: "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.

"GPs are already struggling to cope with ever-increasing workloads whilst funding for general practice is at an all-time low. Some doctors are seeing upwards of 60 patients a day, and it would not be feasible or appropriate for them to take on an additional role as financial advisers.

Dr Baker also highlighted a possible moral issue, were doctors to refer patients to financial advisors: "We would also be worried about financial representatives operating from GP surgeries if they were for-profit. The relationship between patient and doctor is one of trust and confidentiality, and this could be damaged if patients felt that GPs were forcing other services on them."

A recent report from Christians Against Poverty (CAP) says that 67% of people who talk to the charity about money issues are also talking to their GPs "due to the negative effects of debt".

The research, exclusive to Your Money, says that a lot of the health problems relate to depression and anxiety.

The data also shows that 42% of CAP's customers are being prescribed medication by GPs because of the worries and stress that comes with debt.