Former Programme Director emphasises the vital role of Links Workers in the community and argues against potential cuts.

In a recent ALLIANCE Live interview, Mark Kelvin, the former Director of the ALLIANCE’s Links Worker Programme, sheds light on the programme’s role and the challenges it faces in the wake of potential funding cuts.

Across the interview Mark Kelvin provides an overview of the Links Worker Programmes journey. Starting with it’s formation in addressing historical disparity in healthcare funding. GP practices in socio-economically deprived areas received less support despite facing increased patient complexity and demand. He emphasises the program’s role in bridging this gap, connecting communities with vital healthcare resources.

Through personal stories, Kelvin illustrates the real impact of the Links Worker Programme. He tells the story of a woman in Govan who suffered from persistent shoulder pain, seeking relief through prescribed painkillers and waiting for physiotherapy. “When they met with a Links Worker, the reason for that shoulder pain was apparent,” said Mark. “They had a blow up bed on the floor that kept deflating. And so by identifying that actually that’s the issue that’s causing the shoulder, they were able to get in touch with a charity, get a free bed, and then that woman’s shoulder got better… It’s just so simple, but makes such a difference on an individual level.”

Kelvin further emphasises that the Links Worker Programme is not just about improving individual well-being but also about addressing the social determinants of health, which account for 70% of overall health.

In the face of potential cuts to the program, Kelvin offers a critical argument against it. He stresses that the healthcare system should not take money from a program that has been proven to work. “It’s simple and maybe if it was more complicated, it would be at less risk… It’s been well researched and proven to work, but at a patient facing and practice facing level, for the community – it’s simple. And it’s the simple stuff that’s often needed, and it works.”

Watch the interview with Mark Kelvin on the ALLIANCE’s YouTube channel.

A petition, ‘Stop the cuts to community link workers and help secure their long-term future within GP practice teams’ is currently under consideration on the Scottish Parliament website. To sign the petition, please visit the petition’s landing page.

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