GP practices across Coastal West Sussex have agreed to work together in new groups to support each other and improve health services for patients.
This new way of working will see many of the 48 GP practices in the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group area - which have traditionally operated as independent businesses - form new alliances covering eight specific areas.
By working together, these practices will not only be able to support each other at a time when general practices face such huge pressures and demand but also focus their efforts together on finding ways to address some of the health issues specific to their local populations.
Specific areas they will all look at include increasing the dementia diagnosis rates as well as efforts to improve services for patients with learning disabilities.
Dr David Hobson, Clinical Lead for Primary Care (GP services) at Coastal West Sussex CCG, said:
“We all know that the NHS is increasingly stretched and struggling to cope with demand. Locally, we are putting together some positive solutions to address this for our doctors and our patients.
“We believe these local practice groupings will both support and sustain GPs who are under ever increasing pressure. By working together, practices will also, in the future, be better placed to provide new services in communities over and above those normally provided by individual practices.
“For example, one group of practices might pool the expert resources and specialism its GPs have in women’s health across that wider practice area so that patients can get expert advice and treatment without having to wait for a hospital appointment.
“This new way of working for GPs is the first step in our vision to bring together all the separate health, social and voluntary services that patients receive.
“At the moment, patients have to find their way around an extremely complicated NHS system where the different aspects of care they might need are managed by different organisations, with different budgets.
“A common theme from people we speak to as part of our engagement with patients is that they want better co-ordination of health services.
“We all know we have to work differently to spend the limited finances we have in the NHS in a way that delivers the very best for our patients and this is the first step in achieving that.”
The new partnership arrangements, called the GP Transformation Agreement, have been proposed by Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, but created together with GPs.
It is anticipated that in their partnership groups, practices and GPs will forge more efficient ways of working together and that savings generated through this will be reinvested back into frontline GP services.
Dr Bruce Allan, the CCG’s Clinical Lead for Primary Care Commissioning, said:
“Many of our GP practices have vacancies and all are working flat out to provide a service. We are responding to the pressures our GP are facing by encouraging practices to work together - with each other, with community services and with our hospitals. We want to see a more integrated, more efficient and more reliable service for patients. Practices have responded with enthusiasm to the proposed changes and we hope that over the coming months patients will really see benefits in their local areas.”
Yes. If you have a long term health condition and are used to seeing the same GP who has cared for you, this will not change.
Practices themselves have been working together for the last 18 months to determine these new arrangements.
By supporting each other in these new small groups, it might mean that patients are offered an appointment with a GP at a surgery that is not their local one. Patients have said they often don’t mind which GP they see (if they do not have a long standing health condition and just require a one off appointment) so long as they are offered an appointment and do not have to wait.
We will provide details and maps here as soon as possible.