Good communication and cooperation between primary and secondary care is a vital part of delivering high quality care for patients in a joined-up and efficient way and making the best use of clinical time and NHS resources in all settings. Patients, however, report finding themselves sometimes caught in a ‘no man’s land’ in their journey, not knowing what is going to happen next, where to go for advice or why information cannot be communicated between providers. Clinicians report working in a system that is fragmented at times, with a subsequent impact on workload and morale, and on patient care.
The General Practice Forward View made a commitment to establish a new working group to drive action to improve the current interface between primary and secondary care and reduce workload shifting unnecessarily from hospitals to general practice. This agenda has been further emphasised by the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to join up primary and secondary services
Since September 2016, members of the Interface Working Group representing partners across the healthcare system have been working together to improve communication, collaboration and working practices between care providers. Coproduced guidance and resources can be found here.
Members agreed a number of changes to the NHS Standard Contract for 2017-19 to support these aims and formalise the expectations. Information on the new requirements which clinicians and managers are responsible for is available here, as well as resources to support local teams to implement these requirements. It has been estimated that if fully adopted, the contract measures could be equivalent to an annual saving of 225,000 GP appointments.
Membership of the group includes:
- Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
- BMA Consultants Committee
- BMA General Practitioners Committee
- National Association of Patient Participation
- NHS Clinical Commissioners
- NHS Providers
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal College of Physicians