On 7th February 2017, Jane Pennifold from General Practice team and Ifeoluwa Awopegba from the Primary Care team visited Leeds West Primary Care Network (LWPCN) on a connecting placement.
LWPCN is a partnership (or federation) of 37 GP practices working together to improve patient care and create positive change in the community.
We kicked off the day with a session with Linda Thompson, the network’s Lead Practice Manager and Practice Manager at Armley Medical Practice. She provided an overview of the network and the programmes the network is taking part in, discussing patient demand and education, specifically when it is appropriate to see a GP or to consider using other services.
An interesting point Linda raised was whether or not a government campaign could or should be in place to educate the general public which would hopefully take some pressure off GP's, an issue that has been prominent in the media in recent times.
LWPCN primary goals are to bring together the skills and knowledge of clinicians and managers and sharing innovation and best practice. Some of the benefits are already seen by patients within the network as it has improved access to primary care and delivered a more joined up service improving continuity of care and providing more choice and control for patients.
Linda told us they are working closely with third sector organisations to connect patients with available local support such as Barca and Hollybush Conservation Centre.
Next up was a session with Lisa-Jayne Slater the Business and Operational Manager for the network who talked to us about extended access to general practice. Leeds has been offering some form of extended access (provision of general practice appointments outside of core hours) since 2015, starting with 12 practices working together in hubs offering weekend surgeries.
This has since been extended to 7 days a week throughout LWPCN with the 37 practices forming 10 hubs with the exact set up dependent on local need and demand. Supporting this is an IT infrastructure allowing appointment bookings and providing clinicians with access to live medical records of patients within the hub and GPs can easily book into sessions using rota cloud.
It was great to hear from Lisa that the service is extremely well utilised within the area and well received by patients and GPs. Joining together as a network is critical for the provision of extended access and has allowed LWCN to deliver a more joined up service improving patient experience.
Finally we had a session with Simon Beer, Finance Manager at LWPCN and practice manager at Burton Croft Surgery and Simon Boycott the Head of Service at LWPCN and a practice manager at Kirkstall Lane Medical Centre. The discussion was wide ranging and it is clear that like the rest of the NHS, GPs are facing significant pressures managing an ever increasing patient demand.
We discussed what they would do if they had an unlimited pot of money. Both felt a more long term strategic view of patient health was important, particularly around education of patients and parents in healthy lifestyles. They would also spend a significant amount of money on closing the inequalities gap and extend the length of GP appointments.
Overall a very interesting day, difficult to hear about the challenges facing GPs but it is clear the Network is improving patient experience by bringing together leaders who are passionate about providing the best possible patient care.
Interested in finding out more about Leeds West Primary Care Network? Book onto the Connecting Comes to You session on 13 March – there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions too, click here to register for the event.
Want to know more about how Connecting can help you and your team? The Connecting team (Jane Ellis in London and Roy Axon and Sophie Collinson in Leeds) would be very happy to join in with team meetings – get in touch via the Connecting mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org)