Over the next five years, we are investing in our GP practices as the backbone for joined-up health and care. We will recruit more GPs and expand the workforce with a wider range of health and care professionals available at your local surgery, including nurses, therapists, pharmacists, mental health specialists and social care providers.
Our 179 practices are joining together to form 28 primary care networks across mid and south Essex. These local networks will each take responsibility for the health and care of their registered population (around 30,000 – 50,000 people), working together with hospitals, community services, social care and you.
Primary care covers those NHS services which are most likely your first port of call when you are feeling unwell or need medical advice, and this includes your local GP practice, community pharmacy, dentist and optometry (eye health) services.
At the heart of this strategy is our aim to expand our primary care work force to include a much greater range of health and social care professionals including physiotherapists, mental health and social care professionals. This will mean patients can be seen more quickly and by the right professional for their needs. This will reduce pressure on GP appointments ensuring they are able to focus on patients with the greatest need.
We also know we have a large number of older GPs in mid and south Essex and are facing exceptionally high levels of retirement in the years to come. A key part of the strategy is to improve the work/life balance for GPs in mid and south Essex and provide greater opportunities to support their training and development.
This will help us retain vital clinical staff and attract new recruits.
Many who live with long term conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, or who have mental health issues, need to access local health and care services more often.
GP practices have begun working together and with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services, in their local areas. They are creating Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to help patients access the support and care they need.
Typically, PCN’s serve communities of around 30,000 to 50,000. They should be small enough to provide the personal care valued by both patients and GPs, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through better collaboration between practices and others in the local health and social care system
Having PCNs enables health and social care professionals to offer more pro-active, personalised, co-ordinated and joined-up health and social care for patients.
Key benefits include:-
- Primary and community health services will be joined-up; providing a more efficient service to patients with the aim of improving their health and well-being. Having joined-up services will lead to better sharing of information, so people only have to tell their story once to those involved in their care.
- Services can be offered across a network of practices that could not reasonably be offered via an individual practice. Examples of such services include embedding new care models for frailty, long term conditions such as diabetes and access to new healthcare professionals such as clinical pharmacists and social prescribers
- Patients will be able to access a wider variety of health and social care services through PCNs and have options to access these services through more than one GP or health service
- Smaller GP practices will be more sustainable as they can share resources through the wider PCN.