Members of Perth & Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) Integration Joint Board (IJB) today heard about progress being made to improve primary care services across the region.
Developments are being made as part of the pan-Tayside Primary Care Improvement Plan (PCIP). This improvement work aims to ensure that patients can be seen by the right healthcare provider, in the right location, at the right time.
The programme of work is being carried out over a three-year period and Associate Medical Director Dr Hamish Dougall gave members of the IJB an update about the progress already made during the first year of the plan.
This work includes providing people with greater access to services from a wider variety of locations, other than their GP practice.
Perth & Kinross HSCP is actively engaging with local GPs, staff and members of the local community to explore and develop care and treatment services that will allow patients to see the right professional in a location close to their GP practice or other facility, such as a Community Care and Treatment Centre.
Dr Hamish Dougall said, “Over the last few years there has been a substantial increase in demand on primary care GP services. In April 2018, a new Scottish GP contract was introduced to better support GP practices and make them more sustainable.
“In recognition of this we are working with GPs, staff and members of the community to develop a primary care service for the future which will see a broader base of professionals such as specialist nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, advanced paramedics and optometrists often being the first point of contact for patients.
“In addition, rather than patients only going to their own local GP surgery for wound management, blood tests, blood pressure checks and other routine investigations or treatments they may instead be seen at a shared Community Care and Treatment Centre which might, for example, be based in a local hospital.
“We hope this will extend choice for patients with services potentially being delivered over longer hours and available in a choice of locations. The Scottish Government has invested significant new funds to support these new services which will be implemented over the next two years.”
The primary care plan also involves work being undertaken in pharmacy to standardise the support provided to GP practices across Perth & Kinross. This will mean GP practices will receive extra support from in-practice pharmacy teams and patients will have greater access to specialist advice from pharmacists. Ongoing recruitment of additional pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is being carried out to expand this service further.
The positive progress made in the musculoskeletal (MSK) first contact service is among the projects highlighted in today’s IJB paper. The service allows patients to initially access an MSK physiotherapist rather than a GP when it is clinically appropriate.
The new MSK service started in early January in a small number of GP practices and it is hoped the service will be rolled out across the region over the next year.
Six mental health nurses are being recruited to work within communities to help patients access mental health professionals in the community. Four of these posts have already been filled and recruitment is ongoing to fill the remaining posts.
In addition, three social prescribers – one for each locality (Perth City, North and South Perthshire) – were appointed last year. Social prescribing is a new initiative that can improve people’s health and wellbeing by helping them to access clubs, organisations and activities in their community.
In the coming months, a number of Advanced Nurse Practitioners will begin working in Perth & Kinross. These roles will be aligned to GP practices and will directly support GPs in caring for patients, particularly those requiring home visits.