There is arguably no more important job in modern Britain than that of the Family Doctor

General practices up and down the country are under significant strain and are bearing the brunt of pressures to meet increasing and changing health needs.

There is arguably no more important job in modern Britain than that of the Family Doctor…. as a recent British Medical Journal headline put it – “if General practice fails, the whole NHS fails”.
(Simon Stevens, General Practice Forward View, April 2016)

Primary Care needs to transform itself…

General practices up and down the country are under significant strain and are bearing the brunt of pressures to meet increasing and changing health needs. Our vision for general practice should be that it operates without borders and in partnership with the wider health and care system. A patient and their GP should be at the heart of a multidisciplinary effort to deliver patient centred and coordinated care. The notion of a patient going to see Dr X’s wider primary care team should be the aim for a general practice of 2020.

As part of the GP Forward View (GPFV) published in April 2016, NHS England is investing in a national sustainability and transformation package to support GP practices, which includes additional funds from local Clinical Commissioning Groups. In 2017/18 this equates to somewhere in the region of £103m for the south region. This money is there to support the transformation of Primary Care, to enable the purchasing of online consultation systems, to enable access to training for staff, to enable development of estate in line with STP strategies, to enable practices to pay for the additional resources to make the change happen and more.

Knowing where to invest your energies and financial resources is key – there are resources available but not enough to throw at potential solutions without considering which will have the greatest impact in your given circumstances. Spending time to assess your position and identify the areas of priority for your practice is essential.

SCW has worked with a number of partners to understand what the greatest areas of need are and how we can support our customers in delivery of the GPFV and Five Year Forward View (FYFV) and as a result we can:

  • Undertake detailed diagnostics which open the channels for brave conversations about the present and plans for a more stable and resilient future
  • Perform theme and trend analysis across a large area which creates ideas and innovations that will support primary care at scale. Understanding what makes sense for primary care to do together can support sustainability and transformation footprints and planning
  • Truly understand the demand and capacity in primary care and the pressure points which support conversations around skill mix and a primary care/general practice of 2020
  • Provide Organisational Development support to ensure the foundations exist in which the practice will flourish. This can include creating a skills analysis and preparing skills gap reports across practices to understand specialist skills that may benefit locality working, for example, and where succession and retention planning are critical.
  • Produce practice, locality, CCG and STP level forward view plans for the whole of primary care not just general practice
  • Support the implementation of the agreed actions whether that be to redesign processes and systems, undertake cost/benefit analysis of service delivery, provide an alternative approach to recruitment through dedicated project/change management support,or to help plan/develop proposals and implement changes at individual, locality or whole borough level
  • Support practices to identify a range of activities to adopt and embrace technology to support analysis of their operational processes and to enable patients to access services online 
  • Support practice managers with development tools and techniques including mentorship based upon our extensive knowledge of the role and responsibilities of practice management
  • Coordinate additional support from a range of sources to help operational delivery and effectiveness including access to our specialist advice and guidance including (but not limited to):
    • HR support,
    • IT Training and Service support
    • Communications and engagement teams
    • Governance support.

In a quote that seems equally relevant to today's primary care challenges Albert Einstein once said, "in the middle of difficultly lies opportunity". To find out more about SCW's Primary Care Support, contact Alison Westmacott, Associate Director - Primary Care.

Associate Director of Primary Care