A report, called ‘Patient care: A unified approach’, by the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of General Practitioners, highlights nine innovative case studies.
They demonstrate where GPs and physicians have worked closely together to produce new and integrated services.
The case studies span a wide range of services in England and Wales, covering different specialties, different population groups and different ways of addressing complex issues.
- A clinic for patients with respiratory problems at North Bristol Lung Centre, Southmead Hospital, enables GPs and community matrons to refer patients the same day. A dedicated mobile phone also put GPs in easy contact with consultants.
The scheme reduced referrals to hospital and enabled patients to be treated closer to home.
- In Northamptonshire, GPs from 10 practices now have a GP trained to undertake cardiology care within the practice.
The project resulted in fewer hospital referrals, greater patient satisfaction with the service and improved patient understanding of their medical condition
- A GP with a special interest in dermatology and a consultant dermatologist work together with specialist nurses and other staff at Sunderland Dermatology Centre to provide routine care to patients suffering from non-urgent conditions.
The project resulted in lower waiting times, and 100% of patients would recommend the service to others.
The sheer variety of integrative services show there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and the themes of the report include:
– the many approaches to integration, which will vary depending on the patient population.
– improved communication and the establishment of an ongoing dialogue between GPs and physicians are vital to successful integration.
– empowering the workforce to make change, and the importance of providing an educational environment that encourages innovation.
– a supportive external environment, including commissioning and funding fit for purpose, and information and technology systems that support primary and secondary care working together.
– the difference that can be made to patients if GPs and physicians are part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) and work across the whole health economy.
Where services are integrated, patients are more likely to be able to access care and support at the right time and in the right place for them.
Not only do patients receive a better and more seamless service, but the case studies also show reductions in hospital admissions, bed days and unnecessary investigations.
RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said: “I’m delighted to showcase these great joint projects initiated by physicians and GPs together to improve patient care. With the right support and investment, projects like these can flourish, bringing care closer to patients.
“The report shows the importance of closer relationships between GPs and physicians to underpin working together – the NHS should provide more opportunities for meeting, encouraging dialogue, and understanding each others’ needs.”
Chair of RCGP Council Professor Maureen Baker added: “When doctors from across the health service work together, our patients benefit and it can alleviate pressures in both primary and secondary care. This is something we need to do more, and better.
“We are really pleased to outline a number of really exciting examples that are shaping the future of general practice, and wider NHS.
“It’s important that we explore how these can be adopted, expanded and developed, and we look forward to working with our colleagues at the RCP in order to take this forward in the best interests of our patients.”