Wendy Lane, Arden & GEM CSU: RCGP Fit for the Future report

Exclusively for Leading Healthcare, Wendy Lane, Director of Consultancy Services from Arden & GEM CSU comments on the recent publication of the RCGP Fit for the Future Report.

Commenting on the report Wendy said: “The launch of the RCGP vision for general practice comes at an important time for GP practices and community services as they work on developing area-based Primary Care Networks. The principle behind PCNs is to extend the range of services available at neighbourhood level, working in partnership with a range of community, voluntary and secondary care services to support populations of approximately 30,000-50,000. As well as enhancing the range of services available locally, PCNs should also increase resilience in this crucial part of the NHS that currently faces significant workforce challenges.”

“Practices are grappling with complex issues around organisational structure, contracts and funding, culture and leadership as well as resources. From our experience, many are already thinking ahead about how to construct their PCN to enable meaningful contributions to emerging Integrated Care Systems, ensuring that primary care has a strong voice in how these systems develop. Fit for the Future provides additional direction – and purpose – for these changes.”

“Alongside the structural challenges, PCNs need to consider how data is or could be used to inform decisions now and in the future; how digital technology can enable them to transform service provision when working at scale; and how to move towards a population health approach. Using our established primary care development framework, we have been supporting networks to develop a vision, agree organisational form and become operational.”

“The expectation that multidisciplinary teams will result in a wider range of services being available in the community will require effective workforce planning and recruitment. There is real potential here to improve patient care and make the best use of clinical time, but practices and networks need to be clear how to effectively use different professionals to achieve the right outcomes. Improving medicines optimisation through use of pharmacists, for example, can improve patient safety, reduce costs and reduce polypharmacy. In Norfolk and Waveney, our pharmacists have successfully achieved this through bringing together GPs and care homes as part of patient medication reviews for care home residents. While in South Warwickshire, our medicines optimisation team has seen the same positive impact from running practice prescribing reviews. With their broad experiences across different care sectors and current knowledge of medicines and NICE guidance, it is encouraging to see the growing recognition of the impact that pharmacists can make within general practice.”

“As with the NHS Long Term Plan, Fit for the Future sees population health and data analytics as essential to anticipating care needs, reducing health inequalities and reducing unscheduled hospital admissions. Arden & GEM is already working with care providers to use system and econometric modelling to predict the need for and potential impact of new services. Building on the availability of real time data analytics, such as those provided in our business intelligence system GEMIMA, the same techniques can help primary care better understand the needs of the local population and allow practices and PCNs to make a stronger and more confident case for investment in new services. The report picks up on the need to continue to make better use of risk stratification tools to equip clinicians with the insight to understand, predict and monitor risks and make proactive decisions that improve patient care and reduce pressure on hospitals. This needs to be combined with other types of population segmentation approaches so that we can personalise care for individuals and look at how best to deliver proactive and anticipatory care for groups of patients.”