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RCGP reveals updated clinical priorities

4 April 2014

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The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has announced its latest clinical priorities and new ‘Clinical Champions’ for the next three years.

Dr Carole Buckley is RCGP Clinical Champion for Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Dr Buckley is a GP in Bristol. She has a long record of commitment to this clinical area. She is a member of the RCGP Intellectual disability professional network and currently sits on the NICE guideline development group for those with  learning disabilities and challenging behaviour.

ASD affects over 700,000 people, and yet there are wide variations in the rates of identification and referral of autism across the UK.

The aim of the programme is to improve training in autism and to raise awareness among GPs of the issues that affect people with autism, their families and their carers. The idea is to create an autism friendly primary care community that has made reasonable adjustments to give equal access to health care for everyone.

The College will also work with clinical commissioners to improve the implementation of the existing guidelines on autism which have been developed by NICE, as well as working with the Department of Health on the adoption of the autism strategy which is being re-launched to coincide with World Autism Day on April 2nd.

Dr Buckley said: “Primary care is essential in improving health outcomes for potentially unrecognised and vulnerable individuals on the autistic spectrum. The College is delighted to be working with The National Autistic Society to improve the training that GPs receive in the recognition and management of autism and the impact the condition has on family and carers.

Judy Shakespeare is Clinical Champion for Perinatal Mental Health

Judy was a GP in Oxford for 15 years.  She retired in 2011, but has continued to work as a locum doctor supporting practices in her area. She has been interested in women’s health for many years and has been active in research into perinatal mental health.

Judy was the RCGP representative for the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths until 2011. She is now a core collaborator in Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries in the UK (MBRRACE-UK), the collaboration appointed by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) to continue the national programme of work investigating maternal deaths, stillbirths and infant deaths.

Perinatal mental health affects at least 10% of women and is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in the UK.  It can also have a damaging effect on children’s health and wellbeing. However, early identification, adequate management of the condition and prompt and informed access to relevant services can make a substantial difference in terms of prevention and outcomes.

The programme will focus on raising awareness among GPs, professional training and multi-disciplinary working as well as commissioning.

Dr John Patterson is RCGP Clinical Champion for Health Inequalities

Dr Patterson is Medical Director of Hope Citadel Healthcare, a social enterprise working within the NHS, running practices and walk-in centres in deprived areas around Greater Manchester.

They have had great success using a model called ‘Focused Care’ to focus healthcare access on the most vulnerable and needy households.

Dr Patterson spent the previous decade living with his family on a detached youth project on the Hattersley Estate. He has also worked with local PCTs to improve Primary Care use of Accident & Emergency departments.

Health inequalities remain a key issue in general practice and addressing them is a core priority for the College. There are inequalities between access to care, referral rates and outcomes for many vulnerable groups.  GPs, more than any other group of health professionals, see patients in their own contexts and are the first point of contact.

The programme will build on the achievements of the previous Social Inclusion priority to ensure that health inequalities are firmly embedded in the agenda of all RCGP programmes.

Dr Ian Walton is Clinical Champion for Mental Health Enduring priority

The College has selected mental health to be its second ‘enduring priority’ after cancer. The enduring priorities are five year programmes and tackle broad issues of great national prominence.

The focus will be on promoting parity with physical health; inter-professional working; the role of general practice in managing patients in the community; depression and long term conditions, as well as training and education.

Leading the programme is Dr Ian Walton, an GP who has been at the forefront of developments in education, commissioning, service redesign, evaluation and research in Primary Care Mental Health Services.

He is Chair of the charity Primhe (Primary Mental Health and Education) which runs RCGP and university accredited primary care mental health education. It equips GPs and allied professionals who work in primary care with the skills and personal resources required to manage mental health, acknowledging its complexity.

Ian was recently awarded Clinical Leader of the Year by Pulse and the National Association of Primary Care for his clinical leadership role within the award-winning Sandwell integrated mental health and wellbeing model, which is demonstrating major health gains using early intervention through a range of community based services.