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NHS England has revealed that GP practices in Luton have collaborated to provide more than 3,000 extra appointments a year, thanks to the Primary Care Network model.
As well as freeing up appointments, the running of the Primary Care Network (PCNs) model in the region has led to friends and family satisfaction with services being positive nine times out of ten, while complaints have fallen by 12 per cent and £50,000 has been saved. Alongside the 3,000 additional appointments, the network has also halved the number of appointments lost due to patient non-attendance.
PCNs are one of the new national approaches unveiled in the NHS Long Term Plan. Three years ago the Luton practice had four GP partners retire, but now, as part of the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System, it is growing and attracting more GPs while the patient list has increased by 1,500. This is done by pooling skills and resources to provide patients with access to more health professionals including GPs, pharmacists, paramedics, physicians associates and specialist doctors.
Nina Pearson, GP at Luton’s Lea Vale Medical Group and GP lead for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System, said: “General Practice is under pressure, so we’re having to think creatively. Here in Luton, practices have been working together in groups covering 30,000 to 70,000 patients. Services such as community services, social care, and mental health are aligned and the practices themselves have been looking at how they can staff differently.
“We now have a workforce that can see hope. They can see a possibility of working differently and being able to be in charge of their own destiny and to manage their workload. I would encourage everyone to start to work together with your neighbouring practices and really work as a team to deliver the needs of that population. It’s very satisfying and has absolutely brought back the joy of working in general practice.”
Across the NHS, 14 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are seeing NHS and local government join forces to pool resources and budgets and simplify systems for the patient across primary and secondary care.
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