Sustainability in General Practice (Part 1)

I am pleased to provide a link to the first of two podcasts in which I talk to Ben Gowland about the work I have recently been involved in around resilience with GPs and Primary Care. I have worked closely with GPs and Primary Care throughout my whole professional life, most closely in the last couple of years. The GP practice and Primary Care services are the foundation stone of our NHS and we have seen that in sharp focus during the recent COVID outbreak, with unprecedented challenges and change in what may have been perceived, though untrue, to be the least changed part of the NHS since its inception. However, for the reasons I go onto in my podcast my view is that Primary Care has to be the absolute focus of our support and development if we are to maintain a sustainable NHS, particularly over the upcoming winter period and beyond.

Traditionally the NHS has been seen to be ‘The National Hospital Service’, with a focus on acute services and of course the work which we have seen has been undeniably incredible. However, we cannot rely solely on acute services, if we intervene early, with so called step up care, and provide support with step down care, we can make an impact on COVID related problems and improve outcomes. We also know that the longer term impact for a large proportion of those who have had COVID is potentially going to be extensive with sufferers experiencing fatigue, lung and cardiac impairment and depression at the very least.

GPs are worried, and rightly so, about maintaining COVID safe environments, continuing to maintain the right balance of remote and face-to-face consultations, managing the backlog of pre and post cancer diagnoses, long term conditions and routine treatments that are now becoming urgent, along with elderly care and care home management, mental health, COVID spikes and flu pandemic vaccination programmes. All of this whilst responding to local strategic changes, scaling up primary care with practice mergers and Primary Care Networks, as well as being at the centre of wider local structural changes such as Federations and Integrated Care Organisations. Engaging with local populations, managing expectations and meeting local needs has to be as critical to a GP practice as proving excellent clinical care and running a viable business, with excellent leadership and governance, that rightly meets the high standards of the CQC.

It has been a real privilege to be part of this work with Beds and Herts LMC and the programmes I have been running, together with the work I have undertaken with practices such as The Lodge Health Partnership. My passion now is to extend and focus on this resilience and development work with GPs and Primary Care, where it is so urgently needed.

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