Local GP practices join forces to improve patients’ experience of care

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 1 July 2019 that five Primary Care Networks will start working across Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES). The 24 GP practices in B&NES will work together in these five groups to ensure more proactive, personalised and coordinated care for the local communities they serve and address the challenges faced by general practice.

Primary Care Networks will help to make sure that patients are supported and signposted to the health and care professional who is best placed to help – this could be a GP, pharmacist, district nurse, physiotherapist, paramedic, physician associate, as well as staff working in social care or the voluntary sector.

B&NES GP practices have already started to use this model and work together collaboratively to share clinical expertise and look at opportunities to share staff to ensure they stay sustainable in the face of increasing demand, and increase the quality of care for their patients. For example, from October 2018, three Keynsham-based GP practices have worked collaboratively to jointly employ two advanced nurse practitioners to carry out home visits. As well as supporting patients to get appointments more quickly and access services that are closer to home, the Primary Care Network model aims to free up time for GPs so they can focus more on supporting patients with more complex conditions.

Dr Brynn Bird, Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BaNES CCG) GP Board member and GP at St Augustine’s Medical Practice, said Primary Care Networks would make a real difference to people’s health and care.

“The establishment of five PCNs in B&NES is critical to improving the overall quality of community based care. Networks are expected to join forces with community-based partners such as pharmacy, voluntary, mental health and health and social care services.  As well as supporting patients to get appointments quicker, this will also enable patients to access services that are closer to their home.”

Primary Care Networks have been introduced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to financially sustain general practice in the short term and improve access and care in the longer term. Each Primary Care Network will be lead by a Clinical Director who is a GP:

Primary Care Network Population size GP Practices Clinical Director
Bath Independents 56,000 Batheaston, Fairfield Park, Monmouth, Pulteney, Widcombe, University Medical Centre Dr Daisy Curling
Minerva 35,000 Combe Down, Grosvenor, Newbridge, Rush Hill and Weston, St Michael’s Partnership Dr Sam Robinson
Heart of Bath 27,000 Merged practices of: St James’, Oldfield, Number 18, Catherine Cottage Dr Arun Gadhok
Three Valleys 67,000 Hope House, Westfield, St Chad’s and Chilcompton, Somerton, St Mary’s, Hillcrest, Elm Hayes, Harptree, Chew Medical Dr Liz Hersch
Keynsham 25,000 St Augustine’s, Temple House, Westview Dr Nick Woodward and Dr Charles Bleakley