Vulnerable Practices Programme – St Lukes Primary Care Centre, Midlands and East

Case study summary

Struggling with a reduction in the loss of GPs over the past two years, St Lukes Primary Care Centre in Duston, Northamptonshire received funding from the Vulnerable Practices Programme. As a result of the support, the practice was able to address the recruitment issues, remain open and achieve a ‘Good’ Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating.


St Lukes Primary Care Centre in Duston, Northamptonshire, has seen a reduction in GPs over the last two years from 12 to 8, which has led to a drop in the number of appointment sessions from 78 a week to 41.  Despite numerous attempts, the practice has been unable to recruit into the posts.  This not only reduced the practice’s capacity to see patients, but also had a significant impact on the remaining GPs who have been struggling to carry out a higher workload. As a result of this, the practice applied and was accepted on to the Vulnerable Practices Programme and included on the General Practice Resilience Programme.

In collaboration with NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS England has granted financial support to recruit additional staff to the practice, which will include an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.  This support is aimed at addressing the practice’s recruitment issues and offer solutions through renewed ways of working, the outcomes of which will be:

  • Prevention of stress by reducing unsustainable work load currently experienced by GPs, resulting in retention of current GP partners;
  • Released time for GPs to focus more on long-term conditions than they are currently able to do as they are fully occupied dealing with on the day demand and “firefighting”;
  • Enabling the practice manager to identify and implement different ways of working by reducing existing workload, leading to opportunities to provide innovative support by redirecting unnecessary work, with consequent long-term sustainability;
  • Improved communications to patients to ensure they are better informed about services and create improved working between internal teams;
  • Improved patient education for better health outcomes and using correct pathways; and
  • Improvement in quality of training, training needs and overall perception of the practice.

As a result of the support provided, the practice has been able to remain open and to resolve some of the underlying issues that they were facing. The practice was rated as ‘Good’ by the CQC in June 2016.