Primary care networks... it's party time!

Primary care networks... it's party time!

Dr Caroline Taylor is GP and Lead at North Halifax Community Wellbeing Partnership Primary Care Home. She will be speaking in NAPC’s Primary Care Zone at Confed19 on Wednesday 19 June from 10-11am in the session: Building collaboration around population health.

Primary care home, primary care network, locality, neighbourhood – whatever we call them, we are being told that this is the future.


We have had so many changes of policy/direction and reinventions of the way we provide care I bet your first thought was probably along the lines of ‘What hoops do we have to jump through to get the money this time?!’

But I believe this is time it IS different.

This time we are being allowed, encouraged and even incentivised – with real cash (!) – to create a system of care that actually does put the individual at the heart and surrounds them with a team of professionals and volunteers who are all allowed to do what is right for that individual not what the rules say they can offer.

To start North Halifax Community and Wellbeing Partnership Primary Care Home (PCH) all I really did was decide I wanted a party, made the guest list and issued the party invitations – all of which said bring a friend so I didn’t miss anyone out. It is the people who came to the party who have created the atmosphere, invented and played the games and worked together to create something that really is a cause for celebration.

So where did we start and what are we celebrating?

I guess it did start with my naïve enthusiasm and conviction that this was the right thing – what we have all been wanting and what we trained for. An opportunity to stop doing the stuff we don’t think we are that good at, in the confidence that we know someone else who can and will do it better, fellow party guests who are now our teammates and often our friends.

As a GP I want to be able to spend an hour fathoming out with a patient what really will be the best way forwards for them with their health without having to try to give my inexpert patchy out-of-date advice on how to address concerns about being bullied at work, or what benefits they are entitled to, or how to handle their teenagers challenging behaviour, or stop smoking, eat better, get fit, drink less alcohol, feel less lonely…

Don’t get me wrong – all those things are just as important, often much more so, than the health questions they have. I am just not an expert in them. So some brief interventions and some care navigation to my teammates, with hand holding provided for those not able to reach out for themselves, is exactly what I should be doing. Then focussing on doing what I am good at and what I was expensively and lengthily trained to do for them.

Is this not just fantasy?

I believe it’s already happening. At my practice, since North Halifax Community and Wellbeing Partnership PCH started, things have changed. With no fuss or fanfares my team mates talk to each other and are just getting on and changing what they do, and how, because it makes sense for the individuals they work with and for them as professionals.

I actually know our Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) colleague, Heidi, she works in the next room to me on a Monday and our work wellness advisor, Gemma, she has her own room at the practice. Jonny from Healthy Minds charity comes to give debt advice as well as a myriad of other offers of support at a drop in on a Wednesday. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) does a clinic on a Tuesday in room two.

This is not the future, this is the now in North Halifax and it’s just the start.

We are all buzzing and full of ideas.

There are 15 or 20 people at every monthly two-hour meeting all from different organisations. We have looked at all the data we all had, talked to people in our community and our fellow professionals and found that improving mental health, and addressing the wider determinants of health as part of this, is a clear priority for everyone including those with serious mental illness. So that’s what we have cracked on with.

We are developing online tools for everyone to use whether individual or professional. We are developing secondary care clinics based in GP practices on the same day as Heidi and Gemma and others are there to ‘make every contact count’.

We are making this happen now, because we want to and we can. No rules to break, no money to bid for. We are just doing things differently and we all feel a whole lot better about coming to work than we did. We also feel part of something big and exciting, part of a team not alone and overwhelmed.

And this is just the start!!

So why not have your own party.

Find out more next week in NAPC’s Primary Care Zone at Confed19 – work can be fun.


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