Opinion: Our local GP practices are changing
PUBLISHED: 08:30 25 August 2019
When you make an appointment with your GP, you rightly expect the best possible care from someone who is professional, helpful and compassionate.
The planning that goes on behind the scenes probably isn't at the forefront of your mind, but the way our local GP practices are organised is changing and I'm excited about how this is going to help improve patient care in Newham.
Primary Care Networks (PCNs), which went live in July, are an essential building block of an integrated health system and will allow GPs, as the first point of contact for most patients, to take a leading role in planning and providing NHS care.
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Since the NHS was established in 1948, the population has grown and people are living longer - many with long term conditions such as diabetes, COPD and heart disease, or mental health issues that require frequent access to specialist support.
In the past, most of these services were provided in a hospital setting, but experience from around the country has shown that practices working together in networks become more resilient: sharing resources and employing a wider team with a greater range of skills allows GPs to focus more on prevention and supporting people to remain healthy. In this way, PCNs help GPs to deliver more services in the community - improving access for patients and freeing up our hospitals to deliver more specialist care.
Alongside these advantages, our PCNs are enabling GP practices to work even more closely with our GP federation (the Newham Health Collaborative), local pharmacists, mental health and community teams, Newham council and the voluntary sector. This has major benefits for people in Newham as working collectively we can now take a more proactive and personalised approach - tailoring care to the specific needs of individual patients and the wider population.
PCNs are central to the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan and every GP in Newham is now part of a network. I'm excited to be part of this transformation with my GP colleagues as we deliver the future of healthcare together.