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NHS England is working with the Royal College of GPs to build a Network of Champions to promote person-centred care and support local organisations to implement it. Here a busy Southampton GP shares his experience of the challenges of making local change become a national reality:
Working in clinical practice can be lonely – especially when trying to introduce a new idea into clinical practice.
Sometimes you feel like a 15th century astronomer – “Yes, the earth really does go round the sun” – and yet I have found, despite the general exhaustion within my profession, there are sparks of enthusiasm for new ways of working.
More importantly, it is rare to meet clinicians who are against the idea of working differently with people with long term conditions, but more with understandable reservations about how and when to get started.
Yet some have started and it was really exciting to meet for the first time a cohort of clinical champions implementing real person-centred care usually despite, not because, of the system in which they worked.
The Network of Champions programme aims to encourage a shift in general practice and across local systems to bring the person with long term conditions (LTC’s) to the centre of the decisions which are made about their care, working in partnership with the practitioner.
Implementing this model is a way of easing the burden on primary care, and the champions will share best practice in order to embed the national agenda at a local level.
Earlier this month we met as a national group in Birmingham with a network of champions from right across the UK including the devolved nations to think how we can collectively support each other, share the learning and accelerate implementation across the country.
At the same time the Royal College of General Practitioners is developing Care and Support Planning into the curriculum and examinations, so over the course of the next few years will start to embed this new way of working into a core part of being a GP.
Using the model endorsed by the College for Care and Support Planning (figure one) will become just as familiar as the traditional model embedded into our DNA at medical school (figure two).
And of course neither is right or wrong, it all depends on the situation. So this is the really exciting part of the journey; learning new skills and when to apply them.
In Birmingham someone described “the medicine of hope”.
Well just like the 15th century astronomers who had to battle to get their ideas accepted, it may feel tough but working in a deprived inner city surgery, I now have a sense of hope we can introduce a new way of working that will work for patients and professionals alike.
Thanks to everyone who is now supporting us on this journey.