This month I’ve been reflecting on what makes Suffolk Primary Care feel so different to ‘normal’ general practice.

In the five years that I worked as a GP partner before joining SPC I can think of only one or two occasions when ideas were shared with me from a ‘rival’ practice – and this is what other practices have always felt like – rivals.

If you have another practice nearby then two feelings abound – are they trying to steal my patients? And is their practice as good as mine?

Having come from a surgical background involved in complex surgery with large groups of teams working together for mutual benefit, I found the competitive and insular side of general practice decidedly odd and old fashioned! I was, and still am, happy to share good ideas for the benefit of patients and colleagues alike.

Since the formation of SPC the thing I have found most refreshing is the willingness of practices to put aside their previous rivalries and work collaboratively.

One perfect example was when SPC decided to look at how practices dealt with incoming correspondence. All practices did it in a different way with varying levels of success! What SPC was able to do was combine the best elements of seven different systems and come up with a SPC wide ‘best clinical coding protocol’.

The massive advantage here is that the SPC ‘central team’ can work on ideas and share what is known within our practices to develop something that would take GPs in individual practices too long to achieve on their own – especially when combined with the very busy day job.

In the three weeks since my practice in Newmarket adopted the new protocol we have seen a 70% drop in letters being sent to the GP, and if we’re honest an improvement in the quality and consistency of coding.

And the method of combining best elements is now being rolled out to a whole host of other protocols and policies…. so watch this space for more efficient, time saving ideas with better clinical outcomes for patients.


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