Primary Care Access Recovery Plan
General Practice (GP) access is one of the NHS’s top priorities. As such, a plan has been launched by NHS England to improve GP access to patients across the UK, with Integrated Care Boards delivering their own improvement plans for local people.
The Integrated Care Board (ICB) for this area is known publicly as NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.
The national plans' overarching objective is to tackle some of the pressures facing GPs and other services as they work to get back to normal after the pandemic.
The aims of this are:
- To tackle the 8am rush for appointments and reduce the number of people struggling to contact their GP practice.
- To restore patient satisfaction and for patients to know on the day they contact their practice how their request will be managed.
- And supporting a move to more digital options, such as cloud-based telephony systems and encouraging use of the NHS App.
To learn more about what we aim to improve in General Practice, please read on.
Under the plan, more people will benefit from both the NHS website and the NHS App, aiming to help people manage their healthcare without contacting their practice directly.
NHS website and NHS App
The NHS website is being expanded to include information on local services, and improvements will be made to the heart and blood pressure monitoring tools.
For the NHS App, people will be able to view their clinical records (including test results), order repeat prescriptions, view messages from their GP practice, and manage routine appointments. More people will also be able to self-refer for specific conditions.
The plan emphasises the role of Link Workers to improve use of non-clinical, community-based services.
Using pharmacies to free up GP time
The plan allows for better use of pharmacies to support people without the need to see their GP team, including a significant expansion of prescribing rights which will mean people will be able to get help for a broader range of conditions.
It also means pharmacies will have an enhanced role in helping people to manage blood pressure and oral contraception for women.
Linking pharmacy and GP records, through improved digital solutions, also offers an opportunity to ensure that necessary information is shared quickly and efficiently.
The plan supports practices and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to move to digital systems and improve access to GP services.
This will mean better digital phone systems so people can get through to their practice easier, and they will no longer have to rush for an appointment at 8am or be told to call back another day.
Most urgent needs prioritised:
People will be prioritised with the most urgent issues, regardless of when they contact their GP practice or whether they contact them within practice, over the phone or online.
Over the last few years, the general practice team has expanded to include a wide range of healthcare professionals who work alongside GPs and nurses to ensure patients receive the care they need as quickly as possible.
The Care Navigator role is central to this and focuses on triaging patients to the most appropriate healthcare professional or service.
Continuity of care:
People will be able to stay in touch with clinicians via two-way messaging and where a follow-up appointment is necessary, this can be fast-tracked.
Increased use of digital triage systems, where people can input details of their issues, which will mean they can be guided on what to do next and who they need to see.
- Queuing: GP practices will be able to manage multiple calls, where patients are notified of their position in the queue, wait time, and they will never get an engaged tone.
- Call-back: there will be an option for patients to be called back at particularly busy times.
- Call-routing: patients will be directed to the right person or team within the practice.
- Integration of clinical systems: allowing staff to quickly identify patients and find relevant information quicker, with less searching.
The plan recognises the needs of people who are not confident or have access to digital technology or the Internet, as well as those who don’t have access to a private space for calls.
Care Navigators will be available to help people use digital systems as well as guide people to any help available (i.e., local support groups for digital inclusion).
To build capacity, there is a long and short-term plan for GP recruitment and retention and expanding multidisciplinary teams.
National funding will support additional roles in general practice and, with improved digital access, will provide easier access to services without involving a GP.
By increasing awareness and building confidence in MDT roles, it is hoped patients will move away from asking for a GP directly and instead be supported to access the most appropriate care from the right healthcare professional.
The wider practice team roles that can support with GP access include:
- Clinical Pharmacist
- Pharmacy Technician
- Mental Health Therapists and Practitioners
- Physician Associate
- Occupational Therapist
- Social Prescribing Link Workers
- Health and Wellbeing Coaches
- Care Co-ordinator
- Healthcare Assistant
Multi-disciplinary teams in general practice campaign
General practice teams are made up of a range of health professionals who work at your general practice and in the wider community to help you get the right care when you need it.
In this film, three children go behind the scenes at a general practice to meet some of those health professionals.