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The biggest reform to General Practice in a generation brings new services for patients across the capital

1st July 2019

Shake up will see physiotherapists, pharmacists, paramedics and other professionals working across London’s GP surgeries to provide better out of hospital care

A major transformation in the way London’s family doctors work launches today (Monday 1 July 2019).

GPs will work alongside professionals such as physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates*, social prescribers* and mental health therapists – increasing the range of healthcare professionals available to Londoners through GP practices.

Today’s launch of Primary Care Networks will see neighbouring GP surgeries working more closely together and with other NHS services in their area, so that they are able to provide more joined-up care for patients to ensure they get the right care, at the right time.

As well as more convenient access to treatment without the need for a lengthy referral, this initiative will also help GP practices to drive further action on serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease – London’s biggest killers – as well as doing more to tackle growing problems like childhood obesity, with London among the worst for this in Europe.

Primary Care Networks are a key commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan. They are backed up by £4.5bn of additional investment for primary and community care nationally by 2023/4.

Dr Jonty Heaversedge, a GP and NHS London’s Medical Director for Primary Care, said:

“This is the biggest shake up of primary care services for a generation, giving Londoners access to care that is better for both patients and staff.

“Primary Care Networks will ensure that there is better access to a wider range of health and care professionals for patients in their local area – from expert social and emotional support, to physiotherapy for chronic back pain.

“In doing this, we’ll make the best use of the skills and expertise of a wider range of health professionals and make sure patients get the right care, at the right time.

“As new networks develop across the city, we will see them become the foundations of new models of integrated care, which will ensure community-based services are better able to meet the future needs of Londoners.”

Along with improving patient care and making it more convenient, Primary Care Networks are part of wider plans to support London’s GPs who are facing significant pressures.

While many patients in London already benefit from a diverse range of services from their local practices, all patients in the capital should benefit from increased access a range of health professionals by 2021/22.

Dr Katie Coleman, a GP partner at The City Road Medical Centre in Islington, said:

“Over the last few years, GPs across North London have been working closer together in networks. More recently, we’ve been working with community providers, such as pharmacists, specialist nurses, physiotherapists and the voluntary sector, to deliver care which supports people to address things that are important to them and their families.

“With the introduction of Primary Care Networks, we hope to enhance this way of working so that we can continue to improve health and care for the people of North London.”

Why are these changes taking place?

Watch our new animation which explores the potential for Primary Care Networks to change the way services are delivered at a local level to benefit individuals and communities:

Notes to editors

  • A primary care network consists of groups of GP practices working together with a range of local providers, including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector, to offer more personalised, coordinated health and social care to their local populations. Networks are normally be based around natural local communities typically serving populations of at least 30,000 – 50,000.
  • As at 28 June 2019, approximately 99% of practices have joined a Primary Care Network, with a very small number opting out of this permissive initiative. There are 203 Primary Care Networks in London.
  • We respect the rights and reasons of those practices who have decided not to sign up and, where they haven’t, commissioners will make arrangements to ensure that 100% of patients can access network services.
  • Along with recruiting multidisciplinary teams, we will also continue to recruit more practice nurses and GPs, with the number of young doctors choosing to train as GPs now at a record high.
  • *Physician associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care part of the multidisciplinary team.
  • *Social prescribers connect people with non-medical support, such as day centres, charities or community groups, to improve their wellbeing and tackle social isolation.
  • For more information contact the NHS London press office:
    • In hours: Please dial 020 3182 4984 or email commsteam@nhs.net
    • Out of hours: For urgent out of hours media enquiries dial 0844 8222 888 and ask for a message to be sent to pager LON01 (L O N zero one).

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