July is national ice cream month, so what has that got to do with Primary Care Networks?

Ice cream

Thinking about the system links into Community Pharmacy, Opticians and Dentists, as these are likely to be key in further developing our PCNs

At the end of a long and challenging day I love nothing better than an ice cream. Something to look forward to at the end of my day; a mini incentive to get my work finished, something I simply enjoy doing, something that reminds me of my Granddad whom I was very close to. Lots of good reasons for an ice cream; however, the main one is that when I take time out to eat ice cream it provides time for thought and reflection. Some of my best ideas happen in that time. July therefore looks a good excuse for more ice cream and more reflection!

Eating my ice cream today had me reflecting on our work at SCW in supporting Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and how the system links are sometimes overlooked. In the system work to engage Primary Care, we sometimes find people forget that General Practice is one part of Primary Care, the others include Community Pharmacy, Opticians and Dentists, all of whom have interaction with the patient population and all offer scope for working with the PCNs.

Within our work, the focus is how the PCNs work to deliver high quality and consistent General Practice, without unwarranted variation. This builds a platform from which they can grow within the health economy and often makes it easier to recruit the teams and attract properly resourced work/contracts that keep everyone viable.  Some of that work sees them working with other parts of the system, in particularly with other Community Services e.g. Continence Teams, Tissue Viability Nurses, Stoma Nurses etc. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find fully integrated services in Primary Care, through the delivery of long term and sustainable change through a shift in mindset and work with practices to deliver the new outcomes required, underpinned by high quality training and education.

That set me thinking about the system links into Community Pharmacy, Opticians and Dentists, as these are likely to be key in further developing our PCNs. How we work with them to focus upon on improving outcomes across the providers with integrated delivery is part of this. How they ensure the right patient, in the right place, at the right time, with the right healthcare professional and with the right resource to deliver the care is all part of this.

As a PCN have you stopped to consider those system links and how you might develop further the relationships and integrated delivery? How you might work in new ways to alleviate the workload pressures across General Practice, Community Pharmacy, Opticians and Dentists, by coming together to redesign your approach and ensure the right patient, in the right place, at the right time, with the right healthcare professional and with the right resource to deliver the care? If not, we have many examples of this kind of approach at play e.g. in dry eye disease, working between General Practice and Community Opticians.  If you would like to know more about how we can support you to use our process of engagement and redesign to deliver improved patient outcomes, please make contact.  

The Primary Care Team in SCW continues to provide support and direction to Practices, Primary Care Networks and Federations in working to successfully implement new care models, develop connections and work collaboratively within Integrated Care System to realise the best possible outcomes for the population. For more information on our support packages, or if you have any questions, please email: alison.westmacott@nhs.net

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Director of Primary Care

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