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Norfolk and Waveney group named GP Team of the Year at national general practice awards


By Emily Twinch
14 December 2021

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A multi-organisational group set up to help clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people to shield during the pandemic has been named the GP Team of the Year at the annual General Practice Awards.

The 13th annual General Practice Awards, held by Healthcare Leader’s publisher Cogora to honour excellence in primary care, saw hundreds of submissions this year, with the Friday ceremony (13 December) celebrating teams’ achievements during an incredibly challenging 12 months for primary care.

Covid Protect in Norfolk and Waveney was recognised for supporting at least 22,864 vulnerable people, through an innovative data-driven, clinically led integrated approach.

The team formed soon after the pandemic started last year and rapidly identified CEV people, giving them help and advice to support safe shielding.

It is believed this was the first local system to apply such a wide-reaching, clinically led, digitally enabled and data informed, multi-organisational integrated approach.

The team included a wide variety of services, including GPs, professionals from Norfolk and Waveney CCG, Clinical Support Unit, Prescribing Services Ltd and Virtual Support Team. It also included 100 volunteer non-clinical call-handlers.

An interim analysis of the service in July suggesting people’s engagement with the service meant fewer cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the area.

Dr Jeanine Smirl from the Covid Protect teams said: ‘It’s an incredible feeling to get the recognition for our team. I’ve been a GP 30 years and this last year and Covid Protect is definitely the highlight of my career – we’re so proud. 

‘We really tried to balance health inequalities; focusing our attention on people who needed it the most: the shielding people, and the people who are disadvantaged within the shielding people, and it just felt really good, and we made a really big difference. 

Clinical Improvement Award: Chronic Conditions

Also in the General Practice Awards roll of honour this year, Newton Medical Centre, SSP Health, received the Clinical Improvement Award for Chronic Conditions.

The Covid-impact Assessment & Response project identified which patients who had tested positive for Covid were vulnerable – because of their age, health conditions of ethnicity – and offered further support to those patients.

Conditions that made patients vulnerable included being over 65s, people with sickle cell disease as well as homeless people and asylum seekers. It also helped patients with long Covid.

The team was led by Dr Olukayode Adeeko of Newton Medical Centre and students of University of Liverpool on GP placements from December 2020 to February 2021.

16-year-old wins mental health improvement award

The prestigious Clinical Improvement Award for Mental Health was awarded to Ansh Pal Singh, a 16-year-old student who came up with the idea of a ‘gold card’ for people with learning difficulties giving them priority for treatment during the pandemic.

The 70 patients on the register were given a gold-coloured credit card sized card and an alert would come up if a member of the healthcare team accessed their notes. 

A system was also put in place so a designated member of staff would call and check on the patients on the register every three months for a general welfare check. 

An audit three months after starting the scheme found patient satisfaction was high and the practice has now decided to expand the scheme to include other vulnerable groups, such as homeless people and refugees.

Clinical Improvement Award: Public Health & Prevention

Dr Maggie Kirk and the HealthBus Team were awarded the highly sought-after Clinical Improvement Award for Public Health & Prevention for their ‘one stop shop’ for people experiencing homelessness.

The mobile and accessible primary care unit offers a joint management of conditions and its team has campaigned for homelessness vaccination during the pandemic.

It partnered with the YMCA to facilitate two homeless Covid vaccination days, and the group was asked by the Dorset healthcare vaccination to help it reach more marginalised patients.

The charity is helping reduce health inequalities and the National Complete Care Community Programme has identified the project as a blueprint for care provision in other areas.

The team pointed out that providing the service will ultimately reduce hospital stays and long-term illness, lessening the financial burden on the NHS.

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