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Rapid response teams help struggling practices

Welsh health boards have set up teams of support workers that can help out when struggling practices are at risk of having to close.

Cwm Taf health board in Wales has set up a rapid response team to step in to temporarily manage folding practices.

John Palmer, director of primary and community care at the Cwm Taf health board, said that these response teams are formed of GPs and practice managers.

Cwm Taf health board told Pulse that the rapid response team, the Primary Care Support Unit (PCSU), comprises salaried GPs and nurses, clinical pharmacists, a healthcare support worker (HCSW), medical receptionists, administrators, along with practice management support.

A spokesperson said: ‘Deployment is dependent on the needs of the practice in need of support.

‘We have previously managed nine practices and returned them to independent status. We use the PCSU flexibly on a day-to-day basis to help practices to deal with sustainability and modernisation challenges.’

Along with the direct management of GP practices, the PCSU also provides GPs, ANPs, nurses/HCSWs on a sessional or fixed-term basis to cover sickness, short or long-term recruitment problems. Some 10 practices have been given this additional support.

Meanwhile, in Hywel Dda, a Primary Care Support Team is made up of GPs, Advanced Paramedic Practitioners, ANPs, practice nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, etc, ‘dependent on the needs at the time’.

‘This team has currently supported four GP practices, one of which gave contractual notice and then rescinded it. Two have become managed practices and one other has continuously been an independent contractor,’ said a spokesperson for the Hywel Dda health board.

‘We are always keen to develop new roles to support General Medical Services (GMS) as a whole and practices facing sustainability challenges in particular. As we recruit more to the team we can offer more support to a greater number of practices.