GP surgeries in Somerset have announced the start of a new system which is hoped to be a solution to the mounting workforce pressures for UK GP's. The scheme will link them together affecting a population size of 32,000 patients.
The Mendip Primary Care Network in West Shepton will be connecting five GP surgeries across the county. This will allow patients to access out of hours appointments (weekends and evenings) across the whole network.
Patients will be able to see different members of staff and each practice will able to access their notes through a shared database system.
All five surgeries will be staying in their locations whilst the overall organisation will be shared.
Which practices will be brought together?
- Beckington Family Practice
- Mendip County Practice
- Park Medical Practice
- Grove House Surgery
- Oakhill Surgery
This new system comes after the increase in pressure to GP staff across Somerset which has one of the oldest populations in the country.
An increase in the number of young families moving into new housing developments in the area is also contributing to the rising demand of GP accessibility. It is hoped that Mendip Primary Care Network will alleviate this.
Surgeries have already been working together across Somerset with the Improved Access scheme, but staff say this new care system formalises it.
Robert Weaver, GP partner at Grove House Surgery, has been appointed the Network’s Clinical Director and says this does not mean more cuts.
He told ITV News: “For the first time we will see a significant financial investment from NHS England flowing directly to these Networks over the next five years.”
The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme will be providing the extra funding for Networks that will pay for new roles in primary care over the next five years.
This means patients will be able to see a physiotherapist or community pharmacist straight away without waiting to see a GP.
There are also plans for GP based paramedics, which will increase the number of home visits.
The hope is that administration across the surgeries will be more centralised which should make the group as a whole more efficient and sharing the load. This then in turn should allow GPs to spend more time with their patients.
Some residents in West Shepton, however, are concerned about what this will mean for them. One of them told us: "It might be easier to access somewhere but it depends how far you have to travel."
There are some who welcome the change. One local said: "Sometimes [when] you phone up you can't be seen for two/three weeks. So hopefully if it works then it should serve everybody a lot better in the local area."