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GPs should do more work with the community, says NHS Alliance

The NHS Alliance has called for GPs to view working with voluntary groups in the community, such as residents’ groups and local health charities, as an essential part of their role.

The NHS Alliance’s manifesto, released at the Healthcare Innovation Expo 2013, called on GPs to work with local people on housing estates to develop social prescribing initiatives.

It also called on the NHS Commissioning Board to offer each patient the opportunity to create a personal health and wellbeing plan, hold some consultants’ contracts to enable them to take ‘community-wide responsibility for groups of patients and to become an expert resource for primary care clinicians’, and undertake a review of the current financial systems in which general practice is paid per head of population but hospitals are paid for activity.

The manifesto said: ‘We need new partnerships between primary care and communities to shape the healthcare and services we deliver. We need, for example, to see frontline healthcare professionals and councillors working with local people on housing estates to identify and address their concerns and to develop social prescribing initiatives.’

It also recommended that ‘community health workers and community advisors should become new members of the practice team linking practice services with voluntary agencies and the local community, improving overall local health and providing a focus for families who make the greatest demand on the NHS’.

Dr Brian Fisher, NHS Alliance public and patient involvement lead, said: ‘Practices would see linking with voluntary groups in their patch to be just as important as keeping up with their colleagues in the clinical commissioning group or reading the BMJ.

‘They would offer support to the residents’ group on their estate in their fight against damp. They would be in regular touch with the diabetes group and the COPD group and the MIND group – listening to their ideas for improving services and discussing with them ways in which patients could be encouraged and supported to follow best practice in treatment.

‘Practices would see these as efficient ways of supporting self-care, as well as places where feedback on services could be received and discussed.’

NHS Alliance’s main recommendations

  • offering each patient the opportunity to create a personal health and wellbeing plan;
  • agreeing that consultants contracts in certain specialties should be held by the NHS Commissioning Board or local Clinical Commissioning Groups, enabling these valuable specialists to take a community-wide responsibility for groups of patients and to become an expert resource for primary care clinicians;
  • undertaking a review of the current financial systems in which general practice is paid per head of population but hospitals are paid for activity;
  • allowing data to be shared across boundaries in different services and settings, making sure that patients are involved and feel safe and secure;
  • advocating that primary care should take a new role in orchestrating community movements that improve health and wellbeing.


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Readers' comments (5)

  • Given that I struggle to have time to have a wee most working days this aint going to happen.............

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  • Who pays for all those clever Quangos like the the NHS Alliance?
    Oh no! It's probably me and not Starbucks.
    Well there are some real efficiency savings worth considering here.

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  • Which part of the 10 min consultation should I fit in the agreement on personal health and well being plan? Will be before QoF, after dementia screening DES or should I just tell the patient not to bother with what she came in for, as I really have no time to fit her agenda in between the government's?

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  • The above comments have beaten me to it - lovely idea in theory and I would value having more input into the community I serve - but get real.
    There is no time for this kind of important but qualitative work - the government demand quantitative boxes that can be ticked so they can bean count our pay (usually to drive it down) and show what good custodians of the health service they are (in order to be re-elected every 5 yrs).
    Nice to do - but won't happen with the current workload.

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  • Another good idea, but GP's will require support, however there is no reason why GP's cannot get their local council to provide seconded community health outreach workers, who can run community based well being workshops and preventative health care. Whilst working with a local authority I was able to access funding to establish a community health promotion service to train local people to deliver health promotion and community exercise, once trained the health promotion community facilitators and community exercise facilitators delivered their activities at local community luncheon clubs for the elderly but were also employed by Watford Borough Council. If you would like to know more about this activity contact you may contact me on
    Such projects provide local volunteering opportunities, for the unemployed who may want to consider a career in community development, social and health care, but it opens opportunities for building social capita as well as building communities.

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