General Practice (GP) services provide valuable care to their patients but are facing a number of challenges. These include managing the health needs of an ageing population and an increasing number of patients with complex care needs and multiple long-term conditions who need longer and more demanding GP appointments.
The General Practice Forward View (GPFV), published in April 2016, nationally commits to an extra £2.4 billion a year to get general practice back on its feet by 2020/21. Its focus is to improve patient access, the quality of care and to invest in new ways of providing primary care, including medical, dental, pharmacy and eye care services.
During the two years since the GP Forward View was launched, over £45 million has been deployed to support general practice across Cheshire and Merseyside.
Sustaining and transforming primary care will underpin changes across the whole of the health and social care system which is intended to ensure patients continue to receive high quality care while managing rising demand. As such, the GPFV forms a key part of the place based delivery plans being developed by the Cheshire & Merseyside Health & Care Partnership and are being delivered locally.
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Springfields Medical Practice, Warrington
Changes introduced by Springfields Medical Practice in Warrington – including employing a clinical pharmacist and upskilling staff into specialist new roles to manage prescribing and patient care – are increasingly seen as the way forward for general practice.
The national General Practice Forward View set out the vision for an expanded workforce in general practice to help manage GP recruitment challenges and growing demand for health and care services.
Innovative new roles created by Springfields 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 when patients need them.
New roles such as GP Assistant and Healthcare Assistant deal with the practice admin and paperwork and take on some clinical duties such as taking bloods, giving vaccinations and blood pressure readings. They also help manage regular clinics such as diabetes and smoking cessation.
A clinical pharmacist reviews prescriptions and monitors medications for those with long-term conditions – a role previously carried out by GPs.
The practice also promotes Patient Online - more than one-third of its patients are registered for online services, including booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions - and, in line with the GP Forward View, offers evening and weekend appointments.
Springfields Practice Manager, Lorraine Stratulis, said: “By creating these new roles we have improved the care that our patients receive and have maximised staff retention by helping our team to achieve career goals and move forward with their employment in the medical profession”.
The changes have also enabled Assistant Practice Manager, Judith Southart to take on a new role of Care Co-ordinator, providing a new dedicated service to patients with end of life and palliative care. She oversees their medication and treatment, as well as offering daily support for patients and their families.
Dr Flora Kyriakou, GP at Springfields Medical Practice, said: “The role of a GP is greatly under pressure due to increasing paperwork and patient needs.
"These new roles have helped a lot in our practice and I now feel able to concentrate my time on patient appointments and the care of those in need."
Dr Dan Bunstone, Clinical Lead for the General Practice Forward View in Cheshire and Merseyside said: “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.
“Springfields Medical Practice 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.”
Find out more about how Springfields Medical Practice is transforming services and access for patients here.
The lead for this programme is Anthony Leo, Director of Commissioning for NHSE.