Improving Access with group consultations for diabetes in Slough

Case study summary

Group consultations replace routine one-to-one appointments for diabetic patients. This results in GP or a practice nurse practitioner being able to see up to 12 patients in 40‐60 minutes. This potentially doubles productivity and access to routine care and follow up appointments.

 

As part of the GP Access Fund scheme in Slough, a number of practices, working with the Experience Led Care Programme (ELC) have been supporting five practices in Slough to prepare and run group consultations. Several are now well on their way to applying group consultations as part of routine general practice.

Group consultations ‐ also called shared medical appointments, group medical appointments or group appointments ‐ are medical appointments delivered by a clinician in a supportive peer group setting. They are not an addition to routine one-to-one appointments. They replace routine one to one appointments. This means that the GP or practice nurse practitioner can see up to 12 patients in 40‐60 minutes. This potentially doubles productivity and access to routine care and follow up appointments.

Impact

After the first four months, the five practices reported positive changes, and a further seven local practices have expressed an interest in joining the project. GPs have enjoyed working in this way, and there has been very positive feedback from patients. Both report that they are managing to discuss important issues they don’t normally include in consultations. The group consultation approach is proving applicable to patients from S Asian backgrounds as well as White British people, and early feedback indicates it may actually work best for people with the most complex needs and those who are poorly compliant with monitoring traditionally.

Tips for adoption

GPs often have a number of concerns about the feasibility and suitability of this approach. Consider booking a few trial sessions with expert facilitation before seeking commitment to shift to this model in the longer term.

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