Bristol and South Gloucestershire GPs awarded £2.9 million to improve access for patients

GPs in Bristol and South Gloucestershire have been given £2.9 million to improve access to care for patients, as part of the £50m Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

The service will increase access for 270,000 patients across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, registered with 24 GP practices.

GPs and hospital doctors will be able to book appointments for patients to see a GP from 8am to 8pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday, as part of the One Care Consortium, as well as during the week. This will help to manage patient’s conditions, avoid the need to visit A&E or enable patients to leave hospital earlier.

The pilot has a special focus on serving patients with the most need.

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.

Linda Prosser, Director of Commissioning for NHS England (Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire) said:

“We are delighted the One Care Consortium bid has been successful because it will deliver tangible benefits to patients in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. The scheme is an example of real innovation and will increase access to healthcare for everyone, especially our more vulnerable patients in the area.

“We look forward to working closely with the Consortium to make sure the scheme is sustainable, beyond the duration of the pilot.”

Dr Ray Montague, Project Lead for One Care Consortium said:

“This funding gives us the resource to carve out a new and more efficient way of delivering general practice which we hope will be transferable across the whole region. It is about practices driving improvement from the ground up, working together to optimise processes and procedures and the shared use of the patient record, and about agreeing and implementing standards particularly around urgent care and access to accountable GPs.

“But mostly it’s about regaining the trust of patients that whenever the need is real, general practice is there for them seven days a week. The practices and partners of the One Care Consortium are honoured and excited to have this opportunity”

Dr Phil Yates, Chairman of GP Care UK Limited said:

“General Practice has been the bedrock of the health service but needs support at this time to respond to new challenges and an enhanced role. This important project enables collaboration and innovation to improve access for patients and a more efficient and effective deployment of precious clinical resource in this area.

“We are privileged and excited to have this opportunity with Brisdoc and others to work with practices to contribute positively to improve patients’ experience of and access to their General Practice services.”

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.