Urgent care in general practice matters. It matters to patients, who may be harmed or distressed if diagnosis and treatment is delayed. It matters to the NHS as a whole, because urgent care arrangements which have not kept pace with other operational changes within the NHS place pressure on the rest of the system, driving people towards A&E and avoidable hospital admissions. It matters to practices, where workloads can become unmanageable if urgent care is not handled well. It also affects the reputation of the service – unhappy patients tell their family, friends and colleagues about their experience.
This report shines a spotlight on what actually happens on the ground. It describes our work with practices across five very different PCTs, outlining key lessons for improving urgent care.
The report and recommendations are designed to support all organisations delivering general practice services including GMS, PMS, PCTMS, APMS and the new GP led health centres. Other services, such as walk in centres, that deliver aspects of general practice should look to apply the principles contained in the document within their operating model and framework.
We focused on three simple questions concerning care for patients who contact their practice with an urgent need:
For staff in general practice
This report aims to help practices answer all three questions with an emphatic ‘yes’. We outline tried and tested ways to improve patient safety while reducing workload, with real-life case studies showing what can be achieved. In fact many of the practices featured focused on urgent care in order to tackle an intolerable workload.
Our research led to 10 recommendations across a number of areas listed below. These recommendations are aimed at practices because this is not an area where one size, one approach or one answer can fit all.
The different operational processes within each individual practice will dictate the best way for that practice to achieve these goals.
For the full recommendations, go to Chapters 4 to 6, in the full report.
The Primary Care Foundation was established to support the development of best practice in primary and urgent care. The three Directors bring different skills and perspectives to understanding primary and urgent health care - for more details click below:
We also work with a number of associates
A discussion paper: Urgent Care Centres - What works best? has been published. To read the full report CLICK HERE. We were looking for prompt care, provided in an appropriate environment with strong governance processes and clarity for patients so that they understood when to choose the urgent care centre rather than other services such as A&E, their GP or out of hours.
We are working with increasing numbers of practice to improve access and urgent care in general practice. If you would like to know more about our web based tool and customised reports based on a week of practice data and join the 1,000 practices currently working with us across the UK, please email Rick Stern at email@example.com
The benchmark of out of hours services is available. To interact with the data and download reports CLICK HERE. To read the overall analysis of the findings CLICK HERE. The benchmark covers more than two thirds of the PCT areas in England and, for the first time, participants have agreed that the data should be published in a way that allows individual services to be identified. To read the press release CLICK HERE.
Rick Stern has taken up the role of Chief Executive of the NHS Alliance from 16 April 2012. He will still be working for half the week as a Director of the Primary Care Foundation
Our report ‘Breaking the mould without breaking the system: new ideas and resources for clinical commissioners on the journey towards integrated 24/7 urgent care’ is now available to download CLICK HERE. It is published in partnership with the NHS Alliance.
For an independent view of our work with practices on access and urgent care CLICK HERE for the article in the HSJ on 24th November 2011