GP practices can now sign up to the promised support programme to help them achieve changes set out in NHS England’s recovery plan for general practice.
The General Practice Improvement Programme (GPIP), promised in the Delivery Plan for Recovering Access to Primary Care, will provide support for practices and primary care networks (PCNs) until 2025.
The aim is to help them to have ‘more control over their workload, maximise the use of all staff roles and local services, meet the needs of patients and provide safe, equitable care’, said NHS England.
The support programme focuses on five areas:
- Understanding and managing demand and capacity;
- Enhancing care navigation and triage processes;
- Improving the experience for patients of telephoning their practice (‘the telephony journey’);
- Improving the experience for patients of contacting their practice and managing their care online (focusing on practice websites, online consultation tools, messaging systems and appointment booking tools);
- Management of non-patient-facing practice workload.
GPIP provides three levels of support: a universal offer, available to every practice in England; an intermediate offer for practices that require more help; and an intensive offer providing targeted support for those working in the most challenging circumstances.
In the universal offer, practices can access webinars covering the five priority areas and advice on making practical changes. There are also online resources such as guidance on quick wins and best practice. And there are training opportunities on tools and techniques.
The intermediate tier for practices is a ‘hands-on’ package of support delivered over three months starting 4 September to enable planning and delivery of improvements. This support will include facilitated in-person sessions, a data diagnosis and a tailored analysis of demand and capacity.
And the intensive offer provides targeted, hands-on support for those practices working in the most challenging circumstances. Delivered over six months, starting on 2 October, practices will benefit from on-site support as well as group-based sessions to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and sharing of experience across practices. The deadline to register is 15 September.
Integrated care boards (ICBs) have been asked to nominate practices and PCNs for intensive and intermediate support, ideally after needs have been identified using the support level framework (SLF). The SLF is a clinically developed tool to support organisations in understanding their development needs and not a performance management tool.
Practices or PCNs that have not yet had a facilitated conversation using the SLF can still be put forward for support, however.
Surgeries that want to register for intermediate or intensive support need to sign up to an information webinar first. PCNs should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest in participating.
NHS England has said practices participating in the intermediate or intensive support programme will need to have a cloud/internet-based phone system that generates data such as call volumes by time, dropped calls and waiting times, and currently use a digital contact tool such as an online consultation system. And they should be willing to undertake an SLF-focused discussion involving their practice team and that encourages ‘honest reflection’.
Meanwhile, applications are also open for the next cohort of General Practice Improvement Leads, which will begin in September. It is described as a personal development programme designed to help participants lead their teams through change.
The GP recovery plan released early this year set out targets for practices to improve access, with the main support being the introduction of digital telephony systems. However a Pulse survey found almost half of GPs who have already implemented ‘modern’ access measures prescribed by plan say that it has not helped improve access.
A version of this story was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice