SWF’s Primary Care Network

To kick off our series of interviews and questions with relevant local people, we have asked Dr Maya Mistry and Dr Smitesh Patel, Partners at Greenwood Surgery and Clinical Directors for South Woodham Ferrers PCN to update us on the current situation.

On behalf of all the SWF GP practices, we would like to thank all the patients for their support, kind words, patience and cooperation during the challenging times we have all been facing.

Like other businesses, our practices, have had to modify our day to day routines to ensure patient and staff safety. We continue to update and implement guidance and are looking to begin to ‘catch up’ with patients whose routine issues have been postponed due to re-prioritisation of urgent care. We appreciate the continued support and patience this requires. We also hope that the technological advances that have been fast tracked due to the pandemic will continue to stay as they have provided effective and safe ways to communicate with our patients.

Due to the pandemic ‘Triaging’ is something every practice has had to do if they have not been doing already. We see this as the future of primary care as it will create a more effective system whereby patients, depending on the nature and urgency of their query, will be streamlined to an appropriately skilled member of the team.

We have been working hard in the last 12 months to develop what is called our ‘Primary Care Network‘ (PCN). Our PCN members are Wyncroft, Greenwood, Kingsway and Brickfields along with 4 practices in Dengie. By working together and expanding the workforce to include different multidisciplinaries, the face of primary care will not only be a GP but instead an integrated team ready to deliver accessible expert care where it is needed. The PCN provides a very exciting opportunity to shape primary care in our local area according to our local needs.

For South Woodham Ferrers, as part of the PCN, we have recently employed a team of pharmacists that work in a tailored way at each practice. They are a ‘remote’ team who carry out telephone consultations for medication reviews, queries, chronic disease management and can focus on more vulnerable groups such as those in care homes.

We are also intending to recruit physiotherapists who can assess and triage patients with musculoskeletal problems before having to be seen by a Doctor or Nurse first.

In the coming years, recruitment for roles such as a mental health worker and home visiting paramedic are also part of the vision.

I can hear you asking ‘well what will the Doctors be doing?’ By working as part of a wider team, the GP’s will remain responsible for all patients and for supporting all multidisciplinary team members. It will also free up time for GP’s to better manage the very complex, vulnerable and frail patients.

Of course we not only welcome but rely upon patient input through suggestions and comments. Practices get this formally through each of their own Patient Participation Groups (PPG’s). PPG’s are an invaluable asset as members can challenge our systems, provide patient feedback and help improve our services. Currently these meetings are carried out virtually, providing the opportunity for new and more diverse patients to join who have may not have the ability to physically attend due to work or family commitments.

If you are interested in joining the PPG or have a suggestion/comment regarding local needs please do contact your individual GP’s practice manager.

By Dr Maya Mistry and Dr Smitesh Patel, Partners at Greenwood Surgery and Clinical Directors for South Woodham Ferrers PCN. 

In reply to this, our comments were:

Tremendous thanks for such an excellent piece. Hugely appreciated.

Triaging and phone consultations have proved extremely effective and undoubtedly the pandemic has speeded up the introduction of technology and new methods of working which improve delivery whilst maintaining good standards of patient care.

The increased roll out of pharmacists is welcome as initial uses had shown the potential benefits of this.  

The news that you intend to recruit physiotherapists, home visiting paramedics and a mental health worker is most encouraging. It will remind some of us about times when SWF piloted those sorts of services for the ‘old’ PCT when we were entrusted with £20,000pa to trial services. The need for physiotherapy is ‘an old chestnut’ and I have long advocated the use of ECPs (Emergency Care Paramedics) having seen the great benefit of the time and expertise they bring to home visits from my years running SWF’s Community First Responders. The Town has become acutely aware of aspects of mental health following two very high profile suicides, one of a Town Councillor and one of a teenage pupil at William de Ferrers School.

The integration of the developing PCN with non-GP services, the links with the Mid & South Essex NHS FT, acutes and tertiaries, and the strategic and service collective approach of the Mid & South Essex CCG Joint Committee are going to be critical in the coming months and years. The development of SWF Health & Social Care Group over the last twenty years has adapted to the ever changing NHS landscape and now is ‘joined up’ with social care and has embraced the PPGs. We look forward to working together to keep our local health services adapting, developing and growing to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of SWF.

With best wishes and many thanks for all the wonderful work of you and everyone at CVMC.