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Redefining the general practice model (Clinical Pharmacist)

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

Challenges and opportunities for General Practice

Responding to the House of Lord’s Select Committee report on the long-term sustainability of the NHS, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “The independent contractor model of general practice service delivery brings important benefits and must be nurtured and maintained as an option going forward. It has been a trailblazer for innovation in general practice and created the excellent service that patients rely on and value, as well as providing great value for money to the NHS. This continues today, with many GP partnerships taking the lead in developing new models of care.”

However, despite this, we know that we currently have a shortage of GPs and patients that present a complexity of need. While we recognise that we want more GPs in our team we also know that developing a multi-disciplinary team can help address the diverse needs of our patients.

Overcoming the challenges

The Burnham & Berrow Medical Centre has three GP partners and one Salaried GP, serving our community. To meet the demand in our practice, we have structured the team to create a culture and dynamic which means that GPs do the job that they were trained to do with admin tasks taken care of by other members of the team.

Alongside the GPs work a team of primary care practitioners (paramedics), pharmacist, nurses, and admin and reception staff whose roles and responsibilities are shaped by what’s best for the patient. As a result, there’s no ownership of tasks; rather, they are done on a patient-need basis.

We put the patient at the centre of what we do

The practice employs a Senior Clinical Pharmacist, Nick Hooker. As well as providing pharmaceutical expertise and input to the care of the patients within the practice, he is able to see patients for medication reviews (both existing and new patients) and will, for instance, see patients who want to go on or come off antidepressants. Typically, these patients would fall to GPs – but Nick can offer 20-minute appointments, rather than the standard 10 minutes, which allows him to dig deeper into the patient’s history.

Nick knows that he has the support of the GPs, should he need to ask them any questions, who operate with an open-door policy.

Nick’s role is just one example of how the practice operates with a patient focus.

How do GPs benefit from a patient-centred care model?

The GPs themselves benefit in a number of different ways from the practice’s unwavering patient focus.

It’s created a collaborative and supportive culture where people are encouraged to ‘do what you can’ whilst working within their professional boundaries to ensure patient safety. There’s no sense of blame, which encourages staff to go troubleshooting for things that they can fix, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be supported in their actions.

We manage patients dependent on who comes in on the day, rather than GPs having their own list of patients who they manage. Where possible, of course, we try to ensure that patients see the same doctor – but if a GP is on holiday, they can enjoy their time off, without thinking about all the patient messages they’ll be coming back to on their return.

Also, we handle patients on who’s best placed to deal with them, rather than waiting for one particular healthcare professional. This means we can treat urgent patients within a couple of hours. So, when doctors head home for the day, they do so with a sense of completion.

Ultimately, all GPs want to be able to provide the very best quality of care for their patients. But, sometimes that can feel like a pipedream. By redefining the GP model, we’ve given our staff the chance to make it a daily reality again.

Keeping things moving forward

We’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of care for patients and the next step for us in order to do that is to recruit more GPs. If you are interested in working in new ways and have some great ideas that you’d like to try out in practice, then please get in touch.

If that’s you, please get in touch on…


Love Lane




Practice Website:

Mike Wolfman, Senior Partner Mob: 07710 939 516

David Boorman, GP Partner Mob: 07799 627 763

Debbie Hale, Management Partner DD: 01278 772780

Terri Huxtable, Practice Manager DD: 01278 772781

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