New report spotlights GP-physician innovations

Doctor consultation

A new report has shown how GPs and physicians are innovating together to improve patient care.

Published by the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of General Practitioners, Patient care: A unified approach highlights nine case studies where GPs and physicians have worked closely to produce new and integrated services.

These include:
  • A clinic for patients with respiratory problems at The North Bristol NHS Trust Lung Centre, at Southmead Hospital, which enables GPs and community matrons to refer patients the same day. A dedicated mobile phone also put GPs in easy contact with consultants. The scheme reduced referrals to hospital and enabled patients to be treated closer to home.
  • A GP with a special interest in dermatology and a consultant dermatologist work with specialist nurses and other staff at Sunderland Dermatology Centre, run by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. Together they provide routine care to patients suffering from non-urgent conditions. The project resulted in lower waiting times, and 100 per of patients would recommend the service to others.
  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board saw local health leaders come together under the local health board to create a new service. Designing services where healthcare professionals, patients and commissioners are involved from the outset leads to services that reflect patient needs and prioritisation of the things that are most important to patients. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board demonstrated this by holding a workshop with patients and carers to prioritise the areas for improvement in their diabetes community care model.

No 'one size fits all' approach

The variety of integrated services show there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The report explores:

  • The many approaches to integration, which vary depending on the patient population.
  • Improved communication and the establishment of an ongoing dialogue between GPs and physicians are vital to successful integration.
  • Empowering the workforce to make change, and the importance of providing an educational environment that encourages innovation. 
  • A supportive external environment, including commissioning and funding fit for purpose, and information and technology systems that support primary and secondary care working together.
  • The difference that can be made to patients if GPs and physicians are part of a multidisciplinary team and work across the whole health economy.

Multidisciplinary innovation 

The NHS Confederation is aware of many examples of work across different professional and organisational boundaries in the interest of patients. For example, some organisations are involved in primary care home models, which involve primary care health professionals working with health and care professionals in NHS community services to meet the specific needs of their local populations.

The value of multidisciplinary innovation is explored further in the NHS Confederation joint paper with the National Association of Primary Care, Not more of the same. It described the importance of health professionals ensuring they can facilitate the outcomes patients want for themselves – including NHS specialists/physicians and GPs. To enable this, the health services needs enhancement in training as well as more models for interdisciplinary training, such as community-based provider education networks (CEPNs).

This perspective was reinforced by the Confederation's submission to the Health Select Committee’s inquiry into primary care in September 2015.

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