Millions invested to transform primary care in Lancashire and South Cumbria

Published April 20, 2018 at 14:36

OVER the last two years across Lancashire and South Cumbria, £30 million has been invested to transform primary care to make it more sustainable for the future.  These figures are being released on the second anniversary of the General Practice Forward View (GPFV).

Launched in April 2016, the GPFV committed an extra £2.4 billion pounds nationally a year by 2020/21, to transform and get general practice back on its feet.  Its focus was, and continues to be, to improve patient care and access and to invest in new ways of providing primary care.

As the NHS nears its 70th birthday and to coincide with the second anniversary of the publication of the General Practice Forward View, primary care will be celebrated nationally from 20 April – 30 April.

Dr Malcolm Ridgway, Senior Responsible Office for Primary Care Transformation in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said “Across Lancashire and South Cumbria there is some tremendously positive work that is happening in general practice.

“From practices taking on the first newly qualified physician associates, to those who are embracing technology, innovating and trailblazing to deliver the best care possible to their patients.”

Key investments

  • £843,000 has been invested over the past two years to help 200 practices with management support, specialist advice and guidance, coaching and mentorship.
  • In 2016/17 over £4 million and in 2017/18 over £5.5 million has been invested locally and nationally by NHS England to make additional GP appointments available, rising to over £10.7m investment planned over the next year recurrently.
  • In the past two years £1.4 million has been spent on a range of initiatives that include schemes to support and increase the general practice workforce.
  • There are now 33 clinical pharmacists working across Lancashire and South Cumbria covering a population of over 500,000
  • £2.1 million has been invested in the development of 41 primary care networks. Primary care networks bring groups of GP practices together with staff from community, mental health and acute trusts, social care and the voluntary sector to provide more personalised and preventative care to patients and tackle local population health priorities.

A GP practice in Lancashire which has transformed its workforce to better meet patients’ needs is being hailed a ‘practice of the future’ by local primary care leaders.

The changes introduced by Darwen Healthcare in Darwen – including becoming one of the first practices in Lancashire to have the new role of physician associate – are increasingly seen as the way forward for general practice.

Innovative new roles created by Darwen Healthcare mean that patient journeys are now even quicker, patients have more dedicated services and GP time has been freed up to see patients with more complex needs and offer longer appointment slots.  They include:

  • Admin staff upskilled into new roles including healthcare assistants and prescribing clerks.
  • A new role – physician associate – undertaking home visits with a tablet and video linking patients to GPs back in the practice
  • An advance nurse practitioner, who runs minor surgery clinics and supports patients with complex health needs
  • The practice is also shortly to take on a clinical pharmacist, who will work as part of the surgery team to resolve day-to-day medicine issues and consult with and advise patients about their medicines directly.
  • To help patients to see the right health professional for their needs, receptionists are training as care navigators

Dr Ridgway added, “General practice is evolving and we are moving away from the traditional model of GPs and a practice nurse to a wider workforce that can offer a broader range of care options to patients.

“Darwen Healthcare is a great example of a practice of the future and it’s the model that patients can increasingly expect to experience when they visit their surgery.”

The changes have enabled Darwen Healthcare to provide new, dedicated services to improve patient outcomes.

A healthcare assistant who retrained as an assistant practitioner now runs a clinic for pre-diabetic patients. She supports them to make lifestyle changes that could stop them developing Type 2 diabetes. The practice has also been able to launch the Ahead Project, an award-winning scheme targeting men who don’t normally access health services, which has so far encouraged 212 men to have health checks.

Darwen Healthcare GP, Dr Ray Sudell, said: “We looked at what our patients and staff needed for the future.  The results showed us patients need more access to us and staff needed more time to complete processes for their patients. We embarked taking on new roles and expanding colleagues’ roles in the practice.

“This has resulted in more appointments and access to staff, more efficient ways for patient to order prescriptions and arrange blood tests and our staff have a better work life balance.”

Practice Business Manager Ann Neville said: “There are so many changes within General Practice at the moment and it is an exciting time, with many new roles starting to emerge.

“Before we made these changes, our GPs used to come in early and leave at 9pm when the cleaners finished. By making changes to our team and the way we work, we have been able to free up GP time. This has enabled us to increase appointment times for patients who need to see a GP from 10 minutes to 15 minutes and our GPs can leave work on time, so everyone benefits.”