Financial difficulties can lead to poor health. This contributes to the large differences in health between people with low incomes compared to those with higher incomes. In recent years people in places like Liverpool have been experiencing increasing financial difficulties, these are getting even worse due to the effect of the COVID19 pandemic on the economy. Problems with debt and low income are particularly increasing mental health problems, leading to more people using health services. Health services, however, can potentially help people manage these financial problems better. Health services in Liverpool have been working with the charity Citizens Advice, to provide people using health services with advice and support, for example helping them apply for welfare benefits, manage debt and improve their housing situation. This service, called Ways-to-Wellbeing is expected to see around 30,000 people by the end of 2022. Many NHS organisations are investing in similar initiatives, however, we do not know whether they lead to improvements in health or whether they are good value for money to the NHS.
This research project will work out whether the Ways-to-Wellbeing service has improved people’s health, what parts of the programme worked best and how the cost of achieving any benefits compares to other activities the NHS could spend its money on. Using data from health services and Citizens Advice, we will compare the health of people who have used the Ways-to-Wellbeing service with a group of people with similar characteristics who have not used this support. We will then compare how the health of adults, and their children changes in these two groups, before and after the intervention. We will also estimate how much it costs to deliver the service so we can compare the health benefits from investing in this service to the health benefit of investing the same amount of money in other health services. As the number of people receiving the intervention is expected to be very large, we will be able to understand, whether it is more or less effective in some health services compared to others or in some patient groups compared to others. We will interview people using the service to understand how their experience of it has influenced their health and wellbeing.
Working with service users, other members of the public, charities and NHS organisations across the country, we will use the findings to make recommendations about how to introduce similar services in other parts of the country.