As part of my first Executive meeting I was asked by our esteemed CEO to flesh out my vision for the next 12 months. I’ve thought a lot about why I brought my practice into SPC and why others may have done the same. Now I want us to build on what has been achieved so far.

Keeping in mind the seven core values we agreed at the formation of SPC…

  • Compassionate and effective care
  • Driven by evidence-based outcomes
  • Sustainable
  • Nurturing and supportive of our staff
  • Community focussed
  • Ambitious
  • Innovative

…I have focussed on five broad areas to progress in 2018.

1. Support our member practices

Now we are up and running we have lots of ideas on the horizon.

Improving the day-to-day life of GPs and staff at each practice has not – until now – been SPC’s primary aim. Until now we’ve focussed on cost, bringing together certain back office functions and moving towards uniformity across practices where possible.

But in 2018 we will be focussing on the sustainability and attractiveness of working in primary care – helping us to improve recruitment and retention of staff and use our resources more efficiently.

Other ideas include the use of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) such as Emergency Care Practitioners (ECPs), Nurse Practitioners, and Physiotherapists. Several of these are already being used in some of our 11 member practices, however we now want to widen their availability across all of SPC. The use of mental health workers is also being explored at two pilot sites in Felixstowe and Ipswich to help better manage mental health patients and reduce the demand on GPs.

We are also teaming up with Suffolk GP Federation to provide a joint pharmacy service to help with medication queries, deal with repeat prescriptions and run medication clinics. As well as freeing up more time for GPs, this will also provide a resource to help drive innovation, excellence and quality. We have also recruited a respiratory specialist nurse to help with work associated with asthma and progressive lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

We are also currently working on a nurse-led Long Term Condition (LTC) clinic that will be rolled out to interested practices. This type of clinic has been successful elsewhere in the UK and evidence shows that it will help improve patient management and ensure GPs spend more time with the patients who need them most.

2. Good for patients.

We are looking at innovative and ambitious ideas to ensure we continue to provide an excellent level of service to our patients. This includes looking at the way we manage demand so that patients always see the most appropriate clinician. This will allow GPs to focus on continuity of care and will promote the most effective and compassionate care we can provide.

Examples include:

The use of Allied Health Professionals to ensure patients see the right clinician first time.

The use of dedicated Long Term Condition (LTC) clinics to promote more efficient care and better outcomes for patients.

The use of dedicated home visiting teams to prevent delay in carrying out home visits and improve the likelihood of day case treatment at hospital due to earlier admission.

The use of highly skilled pharmacy teams to safely and efficiently answer medication queries, arrange changes to medication and carry out face-to-face reviews of medications, as well as the management of some conditions such as hypertension.

3. Quality and safety

Quality is at the heart of what we do and whilst the skill mix and the way we work may change, the drive for continued quality of care does not. We hope to improve quality while not adding to bureaucracy or workload through various means:

Centrally processed audits with SPC-wide learning outcomes.

Single SPC wide system for significant events recording and management with shared themes and outcomes.

A systematic appraisal process of all clinical and non-clinical staff.

Centrally supported governance for use of Allied Health Professionals in the practice skills mix.

Dedicated Long Term Condition (LTC) clinics.

4. Staff

As previously mentioned, recruitment and retention of staff in primary care can be a challenge. In order to make SPC stand out from other employers we hope to offer more than our competitors.

As a large organisation we can provide a level of HR support not achievable within smaller organisations.

In 2018 we will be looking at various HR platforms and services to fully support staff, both holistically (counselling etc) and professionally (HR advice). We will also be offering in-house mandatory training and supplementary training at the request of members. On top of this we will look to provide leadership skills, peer support and board representation to allow our staff to feel included and nurtured.

5. Education

As a growing organisation interested in improving the lot of primary care it is important that we invest in the next generation of staff as well as our current employees. To this end, we have recently employed a finance apprentice to bolster the offering to member practices.

We are also planning to meet with all interested practices to discuss options for training junior doctors, nurses and med students en masse and give them the chance to experience multiple sites. We hope this will improve our retention rate and our attractiveness as an employer.

As you can see, we are being ambitious and have a busy year ahead to drive forward our vision. Do visit here for regular updates, I want to make the process as engaging and involving as I can. As my practice motto goes: ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’

Nick Rayner

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