Case study summary
This practice was struggling with workload and with recruitment. Supported by the Practice Resilience Programme the practice received structured support and was able to widen the clinical team and respond to the challenges that they were facing.
St Peters’ Medical Centre is a busy GP practice based in the centre of Brighton, which cares for around 11,000 patients.
Last year, the practice partners told NHS England they might have to resign their contract to run the practice, as they no longer felt they would be able to sustain services for their patients due to significant workforce challenges facing the practice. The practice had become heavily reliant on the use of locum GPs due to five partners leaving or giving their notice to retire within an eighteen month period, which resulted in a number of GP vacancies they had been unable to fill. This subsequently left the practice with only two GP partners alongside an advanced nurse practitioner partner.
Under the Practice Resilience Programme, working with the partners at St Peter’s Medical Centre, NHS England’s local team has been able to provide the practice with structured support to help address the workforce and workflow challenges faced by the practice and to give them the space needed to develop new ways of working which will make the practice more sustainable and better placed to meet patient needs over the coming years. This includes widening the clinical team working at the practice through the recruitment of a full-time nurse practitioner and full-time clinical pharmacist. The practice has also been able to benefit from a ‘Practice Assist’ initiative, provided by Care UK, which provides patients with access to a telephone consultations service every weekday, with patients then referred to the practice for onward treatment if necessary.
Recently the practice has been able to accept new patient registrations following the closure of a small practice nearby and now wishes to expand its boundary so that it can continue to grow its list. The practice is now actively exploring plans to merge with a nearby practice to create a larger clinical team that will support a patient list in excess of 15,000 patients and provide efficient back office functions.
The resilience support that the practice has received from NHS England is helping them to create a more sustainable clinical model for the delivery of services at the practice, supporting the practice to overcome the challenges they are facing, in order that they can continue to provide care to local patients over the coming years.
Carol Witney, Business Manager at the centre said: “NHS England’s resilience funding support, together with the commitment to succeed, energy, enthusiastic and sheer hard work demonstrated by the partners and the practice team, has helped us turn around an extremely vulnerable practice to one that is more able to meet the challenges of primary care now and in the future”.