The Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Andy Seymour has said that the CCG, its localities and member GP practices are leading the way in developments to support a sustainable future for GP services and the local workforce.

The statement comes as the CCG publishes Joining up your GP care’ the public summary to its five year Primary Care Strategy.

Dr Seymour said:

“The national issues around recruitment and retention are well documented and are reflected locally. That said, we are doing a tremendous amount here in Gloucestershire to prepare for the future.

In terms of workforce, we are pleased to see full GP training places in the county and have established a working group with Health Education England and GP representatives to ensure everything is done to offer newly qualified GPs, who are coming to the end of their training, the right package of support and opportunities to stay in the county.

We have embarked on a high profile GP recruitment campaign, in partnership with the British Medical Journal, which is already showing some signs of success in attracting GPs to live and work in the county.

Whilst recognising the importance of the partnership model within practices, we are actively supporting qualified GPs who are unable to commit themselves to a full time post, or who wish to pursue a portfolio career, to work in general practice in the county.

We are also leading the way in Gloucestershire in supporting, and investing in, other healthcare professionals working within GP practices, including clinical pharmacists who are experts in medicines. We have already received reports from some GP practices that this is helping to free up GP time for the benefit of patients.”

Director of Primary Care, Helen Goodey described the wider work being done to ensure GP services are more resilient and sustainable going forward. She said:

“Local GP practices in the county are working in closer partnership and are now grouped into 16 GP ‘clusters’ across the county. This approach supports greater resilience and sustainability of GP services and also allows for a wider range of services to be provided to meet the specific needs of local communities.

For example, one pilot scheme under development across two inner city clusters will see GP practices identifying patients who would benefit from seeing full time mental health workers, rather than GPs.

In some rural clusters, GP practices are working together to support the health and wider social needs of more elderly, frail patients, meaning that they can stay at home and be cared for in the community. The practices can deliver better care for patients, co-ordinated by local nurses and GPs who understand their needs.”

In addition, the Choice+ initiative in the county, supported by local GPs, has meant the availability of additional urgent GP appointments, 7 days a week. Between April 2016 and early 2017, over 35,000 additional urgent GP appointments had been made available across Gloucestershire.

Dr Seymour added:

“Whilst recognising the very real pressures that exist, we are very much working together as ‘One Gloucestershire’ here in the county to lead the way in finding local solutions to the challenges we face. We are doing some really innovative work with our partners and whilst there is a long way to go, we are determined to approach this positively.

It is also important to highlight the overall high levels of patient satisfaction with the quality of care in Gloucestershire, borne out in the findings of the national GP patients’ survey. The vast majority of practices are also rated as good by the Care Quality Commission and this is testament to the commitment and resolve of local doctors and practice teams.”

New ways of working in primary (GP) care and development of community based services are key themes within Gloucestershire’s 5 year Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).