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Fact sheet

Primary Care

One in eight of the population in the UK are family or unpaid carers. Over a million of those carers care for more than 50 hours a week – which is equivalent to the number of staff employed by the NHS. The NHS benefits greatly from the contribution made by these carers, as they help the NHS understand the needs of the person they care for as well as providing vital care in the home that many patients rely on.

Approximately 10% of patients are likely to be carers. Of these about a third are likely to be caring for more than 20 hours per week, and a fifth caring for more than 50 hours per week. Evidence shows that for many of them, it is highly likely that their own health needs are being overlooked, mainly because they are short of time and their focus is often exclusively on the needs of the cared for person. They are an ‘at risk’ group in health terms because of their vulnerability to ailments such as back strain caused by lifting, and stress-related conditions. They frequently do not get enough sleep or rest and many are elderly themselves.

But we can prevent carers from becoming patients and help them provide better care for the people who are patients. In this section you can find:

  • an action guide produced with the Royal College of GPs to help GPs and their teams support carers.
  • A tool to help you measure the impact of your support on carers wellbeing
  • Government investment to support carers through the NHS
  • Current health policy towards carers.


Action Guide for GPs and their teams for supporting carers
A revised second edition of the best practice guide ‘Supporting Carers: An action guide for general practitioners and their teams’ has been released. This is designed so that Primary Care Teams can measure themselves against agreed criteria for the services they provide for patients and their carers.

Find out more
Download the action guide


Carer Quality of Life Tool Launches

A new manual to provide health and social care practitioners with a tool to measure the quality of life of adult, unpaid carers has been launched today (Wednesday 16th February 2011).

Download the Adult Carer Quality of Life manual (218 KB)

Commissioning for Carers: Key Principles for CCGs

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across England are under enormous pressure to meet financial targets and priority areas for improvements within the NHS.

Commissioning for Carers: Key Principles for CCGs demonstrates how commissioning for carers can help CCGs deliver desired outcomes and make savings across health and social care.

Commissioning well for carers can:

  • Reduce admissions to hospital and residential care.
  • Reduce the costs of delays in transfers of care.
  • Reduce carers’ need to access primary care as a result of their caring role.
  • Reduce overall spending on care.

Carers are the largest providers of care and support in each area of the UK. The economic value of the contribution they make is £119bn per year. The moral and financial arguments for supporting carers are clear – without support, taking on a caring role can mean facing a life of poverty, isolation, ill health and depression. For the person they care for it can mean costly hospital or care admissions if the caring relationship breaks down.

Download the Commissioning for Carers: Key Principles for CCGs report (1.1 MB)