General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and sees 95% of all the patients who have contact with it – over 340 million consultations every year. It hasn’t altered much since 1948 when the NHS was founded, but this year that is set to change.
From 1 July 2019, GP practices will start to work together in ‘primary care networks’, to share their expertise and resources over a wider geographical area. The NHS’s Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, aims to integrate a lot of services which have traditionally worked separately — like mental health services, physiotherapy and social care. By working together in a network, your practice will be able to offer you a wider range of services than they could deliver on their own, and give you much faster and more efficient access to the right care and support.
Each primary care network will develop teams of healthcare professionals, including GPs, pharmacists, district nurses, community paramedics, physiotherapists and other health workers, to provide tailored care for patients in their community. A ‘Social Prescriber’ will be appointed in each PCN to help direct people to a whole range of nonmedical services, like social clubs, community support groups and exercise activities, that will help them take greater control of their own health and stay well.
Within each network a Clinical Director has been appointed and we’d like to introduce to you the members of each:
Due to the changes currently in process at Rooksdown Practice and Beggarwood Surgery, they are not yet formally aligned to a primary care network. You can find out more information on the status of the surgeries here, and we will continue to update you on their progress.
Dr Tim Cooper, a GP at Chineham Medical Practice and Clinical Director for the new Whitewater Loddon primary care network, is excited to get stuck into the changes:
“The general practice system, where your GP is your first port of call for most issues, has worked for a long time, but as life expectancies increase and we treat more long term conditions than ever before, it’s becoming a challenge for the NHS. At times it can be hard to see your GP or get the right advice, so we’ve had to think again about how we make it work for you.
“Primary care networks will mean that you can access a lot of the services you need faster, but they aren’t just for the medical side of healthcare. We know that both our physical and mental health is massively affected by our lifestyles and the support we have around us. That’s why community groups, voluntary organisations and other local support will be absolutely key to the networks’ success. At the heart of this is focusing on how we keep communities healthy and well, using all the resources available.”