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Innovative models of general practices needed to meet demand, says think tank

by Valeria Fiore
7 June 2018

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Innovative models of general practice need to be developed to deliver GP services effectively in the future, The King’s Fund has said.

In a report published today, the think tank stated that ‘new clinical delivery models are needed to meet demand’ and provide effective GP services in the years to come.

The report authors studied existing innovative models of general practice in the UK and elsewhere and identified four features they believe will be important for general practice to adopt: 

These are:

·Building and maintaining strong relationships between patients and professionals: Focusing on team-based approaches that ‘free up time for GPs to see the patients who most need them’.

It would also, the report added, be a case of improving relationships between professionals, involving ‘a core team of professionals – a GP, a nurse practitioner, a case manager, a medical or health care assistant and an administrator – working together to support a registered list of patients’.

·A shift from reactive to proactive care: This would involve the use of electronic records, with ‘administrative staff contacting patients to carry out pre-appointment checks, checking tests had been completed and, after the appointment providing follow-up care’.

·Developing the skills-mix: Traditional roles in general practices have been challenged in some practices through the introduction of new roles such as clinical pharmacists, physician associates, health coaches, behavioural health practitioners and paramedic practitioners.

These new roles can help medical and non-medical staff extend the scope of their practice, and help manage the practice teams’ workload. 

·Using technology: Technology should work in synergy with the team, ‘complementing rather than replacing teamworking’, and effective information-sharing systems are pivotal to the success of networked models of care, the report concluded. 
As practices focus on introducing these additional elements, the ‘underpinning philosophy of general practice’ should not be lost, the report said.
This philosophy was summarised as centred around five core attributes: person-centred, holistic care, access, continuity of care, co-ordination of care, and community focus.
However, The King’s Fund said that if practices are to incorporate the alterations that will make them successful in the future, ‘external support for improvement will be critical, as general practice often has less access to the financial or human resources needed to undertake change than other NHS organisations’.
The think tank’s call for better funding in general practice were echoed by Royal College of Physicians chair professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, who said: ‘GPs are certainly not scared of change, but we do need the support and resources to implement change effectively, in the best interests of patient care, and ultimately the wider NHS.
‘This report underlines just how important it is that NHS England’s General Practice Forward View, including £2bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020, is delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.’