The Collaboration with Patients and Other Providers Award – supported by NHS England
The finalists for the General Practice Awards, which celebrate leading examples of innovation, hard work and leadership within primary care, were revealed at the end of August.
The awards, which will be held on 30 November at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London, are in their tenth year and, in the run-up to next month’s awards ceremony, Healthcare Leader is profiling the shortlisted candidates.
Finalists for the Collaboration with Patients and other Providers award were required to show examples of the introduction of new models of collaborative working and how these have helped improve the way patient care is delivered – either by enhancing existing services or bringing in new ones.
Entrants had to show evidence of the impact on patients and staff, with judges assessing the beneficial effects and the sustainability of the changes made.
Before 2011, Abbeyview was struggling to keep up with demand and ensure patient satisfaction. To trigger change, the management was restructured and a patient participation group set up to help increase communication with patients and improve their perception of the practice.
A major criticism from patients was lack of access to care. As a result, the practice introduced a telephone call-back service that allows GPs to speak to triple the number of patients.
The practice has found the service to be particularly helpful in assisting patients with routine inquiries for which they would previously have need to make an appointment and come into the surgery.
Other innovations designed to improve access to services for patients include hiring a nurse practitioners to provide extra appointments, and introducing minor illness walk-in sessions and ad hoc Saturday clinics.
Now, the practice has an average of 10 spare appointments across the team every day, which allows for ‘proactive interventions with patients’ and working with other agencies.
Alvanley Family Practice
‘When I tell my friends about all the things that Alvanley do, they all want to join the practice,’ said one Alvanley patient.
These things go further than just medicine. Alvanley has developed ‘wellbeing prescriptions’, which refer patients to activities such as ‘knit and natter’ and ‘singing for health’.
The practice has worked with volunteer health champions, local organisations, charities and wellbeing groups to understand the needs of the local community and develop these services to meet them.
Since beginning to offer these community-based services, GP appointments at the practice have dropped by 30% and the patient list size has grown by 15%.
This social prescribing has been labelled ‘the thing that might just save general practice’, by the clinical team. It has also helped the practice team thrive, lifting staff morale and lessening workload, with a noticeable positive impact on the atmosphere at the surgery.
Click Federation, South Somerset
Comprised of eight GP practices, Click Federation incorporates pharmacists, paramedics, exercise specialists, GPs, community agents and carer’s champions all working together to care for 50,000 patients.
All the practice managers meet regularly, sharing the workload between them to improve the holistic care of patients. Initiatives introduced by the GP federation include Click into Activity, which gives inactive patients access to a free 12-week physical activity programme, with the aim to get people moving and help prevent conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.
The Click into Activity service has had over 500 referrals, with glowing testimonials from patients, including one who lost over three stone, and others who no longer require diabetic and hypertensive medication.
The collaboration also ‘pools talent’, according to one practice manager, which enables efficiency. For example, emergency care practitioners have replaced traditional GP home visits, which has freed up between one and two hours of GP time a day.
In the disadvantaged community of Fleetwood, Lancashire, three GP practices, local authorities, schools and the voluntary sector have collaborated to promote a healthier way of living in their community.
Healthier Fleetwood has worked on a resident-led scheme that connects individuals with their neighbours, the wider community and professionals who can help them in different ways. The project is, among other elements, designed to build confidence by offering social activities such as gardening and cooking clubs.
This social prescribing approach has led to an improvement in the quality of life for many patients. One patient lost over seven stone after becoming involved with Healthier Fleetwood, to name just one example. The patient, who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has also seen her breathing improve since joining Harmony & Health– a free choir that forms part of the initiative.
She now mentors another patient, helping her improve her confidence and mental health. The scheme has led to a reduction in GP appointments, and ‘empowered’ patients to take an active role in their own health and wellbeing.
Dr Helen Kingston & Jenny Hartnoll, Frome Medical Practice
Providing the community with holistic care while improving the working lives for practice staff was the aim of Dr Helen Kingston when she led the design of the Health Connections service in Frome, Somerset.
The service, led by health connector Jenny Hartnoll, uses a social prescribing model based in primary care, centred around the collaborative working of primary community services, social care and the voluntary sector.
Through the Health Connectors scheme, 81% of patients have seen an improvement in wellbeing, as measured by the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. As high a percentage as 92% of GP practice staff feel confident that patients benefit from being signposted to the service.
In partnership with Frome Town Council, the Health Connectors programme has created 650 ‘informed members of the community’ with knowledge of the service, to spread the word about it in the area.
Since introducing the initiative, the practice has seen the number of patients admitted acutely to hospital fall by 21%.
James Wigg Practice and Queens Crescent Practices
Covering 28,000 patients, these two practices have created a ‘one stop shop’ for health services in their community – under one roof.
The building built for this purpose, the Kentish Town Health Centre, houses general practice services, as well as a pharmacist, a mental health nurse, paramedics, psychology, psychiatry and addiction services, social prescribing, carers champion, a pediatric consultant-led clinic, and multiple other services.
It also has a shared reception and open-plan workspaces with hot desking – so all disciplines work closely together and can communicate easily.
Patients and staff have been ‘extremely positive’ about the service, the practices report – commenting on the ease of access and the number of different services provided.
The impact on mental health services in particular has highly noticeable, with a 39% drop in the number of GP consultations related to this.
Members of the extended team at the two practices include a SMI specialist nurse, and two social workers, based in the shared workspace as part of a collaboration with Camden Council’s social services.
If you would like to join our finalists at the General Practice Awards ceremony on 30th November please contact [email protected] to purchase tickets.
For the complete General Practice Awards 2018 shortlist, click here