Brighton and Hove GPs awarded £1.8 million to improve access for patients

GPs in Brighton and Hove have been given around £1.8 million to improve access to care for 137,551 patients, as part of the £50m Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

‘Care navigators,’ will be introduced to 18 practices in Brighton and Hove, for patients like the elderly who require health guidance rather than medical care.  Working with voluntary care organisations Age UK and Neighbourhood Care, specially trained navigators will provide support for patients in community settings, particularly for those who are living on their own.

The practices are also working with local pharmacists to create four ‘primary care’ centres, to give patients a more responsive and flexible service, with same-day appointments, from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, at a GP practice, in a pharmacy, or at home.

More than seven million patients across the country will benefit after 20 GP collaborations were successful in bids to the fund and were awarded investment to run pilots for a year.

The Challenge Fund created great interest amongst practices in adopting new ways of working, attracting more than 250 expressions of interest.

The successful schemes have been awarded sums from £400k to £5m. 5 pilot schemes have been approved across the South of England and have been given over £12 million to transform access to GP services and improve the patient experience.

A wide variety of ideas are to be trialed including 8am-8pm working, better use of telecare and health apps, access to appointments through e-mail and Skype, and greater flexibility with face-to-face access.

Sarah Creamer, Director of Commissioning, NHS England (Surrey and Sussex) said:

“We are delighted that the Extended Primary Integrated Care pilot scheme has been selected by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

“The Brighton and Hove pilot scheme will extend access to GPs through joint working with local pharmacies and will introduce care navigators, who will help deliver integrated care around the needs of individual patients.

“These schemes are important in developing services that ensure that local patients are able to access and receive the highest quality care.”

Jonathan Serjeant, Clinical Director at Brighton Integrated Care Services (BICS) said:

“We are thrilled to be working collaboratively with Age UK, Neighbourhood Care and local practices and pharmacies to improve the quality of care for the people of Brighton and Hove.  We believe the project will improve access to care and support services, bring better experience and more choice for patients, and will put people in control of their own care and treatment.

“It will reconnect our GP surgeries with their neighbourhood community resources. By working more closely with local pharmacies, we will be able to make much better use of the skills, knowledge and experience of pharmacists.

“Our partnership with the voluntary sector is particularly important as it will allow us to reach out to our most needy patients and look at new ways of supporting people who may live alone or have complex conditions, to be as independent as they can be.”

Mike Bewick, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, said:

“We were very pleased so many practices came together to look at delivering innovative services at scale and we will await the outcomes of the pilot schemes eagerly.

“This fund is about helping those people who struggle to find a GP appointment to fit in with family and work life and making the most of new technologies. We need to create an environment that enables GPs to play a much stronger role, as part of a more integrated system of out-of-hospital care.”

In October 2013, the Prime Minister announced the Challenge Fund to improve access to general practice and NHS England was asked to lead on the selection and management of the pilot schemes.

GP practices were invited to submit their ‘expressions of interest’ (EOIs) in December and NHS England’s area teams considered them before a national assessment panel made the final decision.

The panel had representatives from NHS England, the Department of Health and patient groups.

Dr Charles Alessi, Chairman of the National Association for Primary Care said:

“The National Association of Primary Care commends those practices that bid for the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, and I am not surprised by the overwhelming response.

“The GP Challenge Fund will give colleagues the time and ability to work innovatively to ensure better patient outcomes in an out-of-hospital environment”

NHS England will now oversee the pilots that will be part of a 12-month national development and evaluation programme.

NHS England wishes to build on the momentum created by the bid process, and alongside the pilots, is looking to establish a number of “associate networks” to the Challenge Fund to link a number of the other innovative bids within their region and nationally to share learning.

Today it is also announced by the Department of Health that NHS primary care will wrap care around the individual needs of the 800,000 people with the most complex needs under the “Transforming Primary Care: proactive, personalised, joined-up care for those who need it most.”

Around 223,000 people in the South will benefit from the project.

Mostly elderly patients will be offered an enhanced service including: proactive, personalised care plans regularly-reviewed by GPs, nurses, carers and other health professionals; a named GP responsible for their care around-the-clock; and same-day access to a medical professional.