75 GP practices across Gloucestershire are working together through the Primary Care Network model in order to create over 100,000 more appointments for their patients. The additional appointments will be mainly to see GPs and nurses. With the increase of mental health workers, clinical pharmacists, paramedics and physiotherapists now working in GP surgeries, it is hoped that they will be able to free up GP time to increase the number of appointments available.
The scheme comes through the NHS Long Term Plan and is made possible by 16 Primary Care Networks as a new national approach.
Furthermore, GP practices will benefit from the new five-year contract that will see huge investment to improve access to doctors by expanding services available at local surgeries and making longer appointments available.
The Primary Care Network is considered the most significant reform to GP services in fifteen years and hopes to add 20,000 more staff to GP practices. Already in Gloucestershire, paramedics are carrying out home visits which save GPs 120 visits per month. As well as this, physiotherapists are saving GPs more than 180 appointments a month.
Three mental health practitioners in the county see 65 patients a week while clinical pharmacists offer expert advice to patients to save unnecessary GP appointments. It is hoped that the Primary Care Network will reduce the number of hospital referrals and allow patients to be treated closer to home.
NHS England’s Acting Director for Primary Care, Dr Nikki Kanani explains; “A mixed team of health professionals including nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists or paramedics means patients can be seen quicker by the right health professionals for their needs, freeing up time for GPs to see the most complex patients.”
A GP in Tewkesbury, Dr Jeremy Welch adds; “The feedback from patients and staff has been extremely pleasing and we are encouraged to keep developing the offer we are able to provide to our patients. We are in exciting times and it really feels like a team effort to support our patients.”