Working with GP Practices and Emergency Departments

Working with GP Practices and Emergency Departments


Altogether Better is currently working with The Right Conversation at the Right Time project, an initiative supported by NHS Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups which is aiming to help doctors, nurses and patients get the most from the conversations they have in appointments.  Read more in their leaflet here.


Altogether Better's role with the project involves supporting GP Practices to think about what happens outside of the consulting room and the ways local people working as volunteers can play a key role in shaping the ideas and services that can make a positive difference to patients and the wider community. 

Since May 2012, Altogether Better and local Leeds organisation Feel Good Factor have recruited and supported over 50 volunteers to work as Practice Health Champions in 3 GP surgeries across Leeds. Conversations between the Champions and the Practice staff are developing, along with a growing understanding of the local needs of the community and the type of networks, services, information and opportunities needed to meet these needs.

There are lots of potential benefits to the practices, patients, and Champions including: gaining a better understanding of local health needs, improving connections between different services and local networks, reducing isolation, helping people to develop new skills and experiences, and supporting people to better manage their physical and mental health. The role of a Practice Health Champion is wide-ranging and Champions are supported to work out how best to use their skills and expertise to support others.  Read more in our publication here.


The team have also recruited and trained local people to work as Volunteer Health Champions within the Emergency Departments of St. James's University Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary. In giving their time to support patients, carers and staff in the Emergency Department, Volunteer Health Champions offer a friendly face, someone to talk to and also practical support and information on hosptial services, health and wellbeing. 

Hospitals can be quite intimidating places, and the Emergency Department in particular can be busy, confusing and chaotic. It can also be quite a lonely experience for people who are on their own and having to wait for long periods of time. The hospital staff don’t always have enough time to give patients reassurance and all the information they need. Volunteer health champions offer a way of helping patients to feel more relaxed and better informed. They can provide a bit of company at a difficult time, and also offer useful information about hospital services, transport, and a range of health and wellbeing issues.

There are lots of potential advantages to the patients, champions and the hospital including: reducing anxiety and loneliness, improving understanding of how different services work, gaining a better understanding of what patients and carers need, supporting people to better manage their physical and mental health, helping people to develop new skills and experiences, and improving connections between different services and local networks.


Building on this pilot project, Altogether Better has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund to cascade this work across Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the Midlands. Find out more by clicking here.


Please contact Sarah Fassihi at or call 07554113230