Folkestone and Dover GPs awarded £1.89 million to improve access for patients

GPs in Folkestone and Dover have received around £1.89 million to improve access to care for 94,940 patients, as part of the £50m Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

There will be 13 practices benefiting as part of the trial, piloting a range of options to make services more accessible to patients including:

  • extended opening hours from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week
  • an urgent home visit service outside of core practice hours (8am-6.30pm)
  • enhanced community care with short-term residential facilities in the community to avoid hospital admissions
  • and for patients with urgent mental health needs, a new rapid assessment service delivered by a primary care mental health specialist, either at a patient’s home or at their GP.

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.

Felicity Cox, Director, NHS England (Kent and Medway) said:

“We are delighted that Invicta Health is one of bidders selected for the Prime Ministers’ Challenge Fund.  The proposal will bring together general practices across Folkestone and Dover to provide joined up, more flexible and accessible services to local people.

“The area team was impressed by the detail of the bid and the commitment from the GP practices involved delivering an innovative solution to meet the needs of patients in these communities.”

Dr Gary Calver GP and Director of Invicta Health CIC and Kim Horsford Chief Executive Invicta Health CIC said:

“This is a real opportunity to use increased resources in South Kent Coast to change the way care is delivered.  The resources should enable patients to receive co-ordinated care in their community based on the continuity of General Practice.

Invicta Health is a community interest company owned by more than 40 GP practices in East Kent.  It was established to allow GP practices to work collaboratively on integrated projects for the benefit of local people.”

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 “Primary Care Transformation: 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.