The NHS is constantly changing to try and meet the increasing challenges of providing healthcare to the population. General Practice also known as primary care has a significant part to play in the way healthcare services are offered and delivered.
From 1st April all GP Practices are being asked to join with neighbouring practices to form clusters which are being called Primary Care Networks. These networks will be made up of GP practices that are close to one another in location to make a total network population of between 30,000 and 50,000 patients. This does not mean that these practices will be merging together, more that they will become the centres around which other NHS services will be wrapped, such as district nurses and social care.
So what does this mean for you as our patient and the practice you are registered with?
Four practices in our area, namely this one, St Margarets, Richmond Road and Grafton Road are coming together to form a Primary Care Network. We hope that by working more closely together with each other and the services that we all rely on to support our work, we will be able to jointly deliver an improved service to you, our patient.
As of 1st July, Primary Care Network has been approved by our local Clinical Commissioning Group and we have appointed a clinical director (Dr Vicky Matiopolou) to help our network focus on areas for improvement, and act as a link to the other Primary Care Networks in the area, the local hospitals,HealthWatch, Solihull Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group. This will help us to influence how health and social care is delivered to our joint population.
One of the most important and hopefully noticeable improvement for you will be the creation of more extended hours appointments available outside of the usual Monday to Friday 8am to 6.30pm. This builds on the already very successful extended access hub which works out of Richmond Road surgery. In future, we hope to be able to offer a different range of appointments not just face to face but some telephone consultations as well as we know it can be difficult to have a discussion with your GP during the work day and possibly, on line.
Through another contract that we are all working to, all Practices in our network will gradually take on offering all their own appointments for patients who need to have blood tests. We hope to be able to offer some weekend and evening appointments through the hub for these tests to be taken.
We will also be employing a social prescriber who will support those isolated patients who need some support to integrate with the community and combat loneliness. The network will have a clinical pharmacist who will offer consultations to help patients understand their medication and resolve any problems they might be experiencing as well as help checks patients medications when they are discharged from hospital
We are at the very beginning on an exciting journey that is part of the NHS long term plan for how care should be delivered to communities. Your Practice and its primary care network are committed to keeping you informed along every step of the way, so when we have more information or news, we will let you know.
In the meantime, if you would like to know more, you can always ask to speak to your practice manager