Updated: May 24
In the lead-up to the launch of the 2023 PCN Plus Programme cohort this week, which is now sold out, I, along with PCN Plus co-facilitators; Dr Andy Foster and Dr Hussain Gandhi (eGPlearning Podblast), and Ben Gowland (Ockham Healthcare), took part in a one-hour long, bitesize webinar to dissect and advise on the recent policy changes and how best to lead and deliver on these locally.
As part of our webinar, Andy offered some really excellent and practical tips for implementing and adapting services in response to the recent GP contract changes based on his own PCN's approach, which I am keen to share with you.
Let's jump in!
1. Assess the contractual requirements and benchmark these against what the needs of your population are, and your own vision.
Avoid what doesn’t pay well and what you and your team consider to be superficial. Be selective about where your areas of priority are.
2. Widen your support systems by considering what can be managed at network level.
✅ Would a network-level triage system work, for example, by building capacity by drawing on a larger pool of resources?
✅ Consider streamlining things such as same-day access so patients have an increased opportunity to be seen more quickly at an alternative practice which is still geographically local.
✅ You could also think about redeploying your ARRS staff to provide support when there are spikes in demand throughout the day?
3. Map your resources.
Spend time on regularly scrutinising current staffing resources (and structures) and identify where gaps and vacancies exist.
Introduce measures to pinpoint any high-pressure areas versus services which may be under-utilised.
Don’t forget to continually review and tap into any community assets and reduce pressure by signposting, where appropriate, to other locally commissioned services and providers.
4. Use this as an opportunity to focus on improving access to the practice.
➡️ Consider better use of your care navigator/s.
➡️ Increase support for frontline reception staff.
➡️ Where would e-consultations (and other health tech systems) be more beneficial in giving quicker access and supporting clinical capacity?
➡️ Could use of the on-call clinician’s time be improved?
5. Re-define the language around appointments.
Replace terminology such as “urgent” and “routine” (which can mean different things to different people at different times) with “same day”, “seven day” and or “follow up”. Be clear about what these definitions mean within your practice
6. Exercise caution when it comes to waiting lists.
These are always a useful tool for assessing capacity and demand and maintaining awareness of service performance; however, try to restrict waiting lists for follow ups, rather than first contacts.
7. Maintain a continuous review of data measures and feedback mechanisms.
Whilst we are on the topic of data…
✅ Are you on top of your current data measures and are there any which could offer more useful insight?
✅ How many appointments have been requested? How many were offered?
✅ What did the patient ask for in the first place? What did they actually get?
✅ What does the patient journey or flow look like? Are they happy?
✅ Consider whether you are catering for the 5% of unhappy patients versus 95% of satisfied patients.
8. Always keep in mind that Primary Care (and General Practice) is not, and never has been, an emergency service.
Prioritise the provision of a safe and sustainable service, harnessing the power of the clarity provided within the latest contractual requirements and always ensure staff are well-supported.
9. Ensure there is widespread clarity and understanding of the changes.
This means making both your workforce and your local patient population fully aware. Update your web pages, push out comms via your social media platforms, hang posters, etc. Above all, use this as an opportunity to re-clarify your access points and how patients can get the best from their practice and Primary Care team.
10. Your focus should always be on the delivery of high-quality healthcare which meets the needs of your population.
It sounds obvious, but we can often lose sight of this when under extreme pressure.
Keen for more?
Dr Ishani Patel also provides her take on how to approach the GP Contract changes too in the blog below.
I hope this helps!
About the Author
I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 240 episodes.
I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors.
I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs.
I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.
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