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Self-care helpline frees up GP time for double appointments



GP practices have been freed up to offer 20-minute appointments with patients aged 65 and over by using ‘self-care champions’ to offer long-term condition management support over the phone.

In all, 24 practices in West London have started offering longer appointments under NHS West London CCG’s ‘My Care, My Way’ programme – with plans to start rolling it out to all 46 practices from next April.

The programme intends to ‘connect patients with a team of people who can work with them to manage their own care in the best possible way’ and patients say having self-care input on hand at an early stage makes them more confident that they can stay at home.

Verna Parry, a patient who has used the service said: ‘I feel more confident having somebody to phone if I have a small problem. It is a very valuable part of my life now and I am very thankful to have this extra help.’

The overall increase in average appointment duration is yet to be calculated, but the CCG told Pulse another part of the scheme allows patients with complex needs to see care ‘Case Managers’ for two hour-long care planning sessions,.

A spokesperson for NHS West London CCG said: ‘All 24 practices are offering long appointments to their patients who are 65 and over. Plans are in place to roll it out across the remainder of the [46 West London] practices in 17/18. The longer appointments usually last for 20 minutes.’

NHS West London CCG chair Dr Fiona Butler said: ‘Self-care is the difference between coping alone and being part of a supportive community. In West London we want patients to feel more confident in making informed decisions about their health.’

The CCG said this was part of a range of measures it is taking to increase self-care, also including ‘integrated care centres’ for delivering diabetes clinics, pharmacy and social services in the community, and more social prescribing initatives.