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Redesign Of NHS Highland Run GP Practices In Skye And Lochalsh

Issued: 14 Jul 2010

The NHS Highland run GP practices in Skye and Lochalsh are being redesigned to improve the efficiency of the service they provide and to make better use of the available resources.

These practices are in Broadford, Sleat, Carbost and Glenelg, which together cover a population of less than 4,000. Their GPs and staff are all employed directly by Mid Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP).

The Skye and Lochalsh Locality and CHP Management Teams have recognised for some time that there could be benefits to the patients and the practices team if these practices worked more closely together.

Recent vacancies within administration and clerical posts, the impending retirement of one of the salaried GPs and the current financial situation have now provided a stimulus for this work to move ahead.

The two salaried practices in South Skye, Broadford and Sleat, have been operating as one managerial unit for several years, working very closely with the Community Nurses in one Primary Care Team. The CHP is considering whether closer integration would be beneficial.

Locality General Manager, Alison Phimister, explained that, over the last few years, Broadford and Sleat practices had been moving towards working as one integrated practice.

She said the locality employed one practice manager to oversee both sites and allocated a lead responsibility to one of the GPs to support this move.

Ms Phimister said: “When the administrative vacancies at the Broadford practice arose, it was agreed to fill some hours on a fixed term basis in order to progress the collaborative working between South Skye practices.

“It was also agreed that we needed to develop a workforce that could provide cross cover during annual or sick leave and to rationalise the administration arrangements to prevent duplication and reduce costs.

”These actions would complement earlier efficiencies in management and administration costs and protect the delivery of direct patient care.”

A small working group was set up to take this forward and an action plan was drawn up to monitor and evaluate progress.

Ms Phimister explained that a shared IT and telephone system was key to the success of this project. This would allow better communication within the team, easier access to the patient records for the medical staff and streamlined communication for the patients.

Detailed analysis is now being undertaken to understand how this model would work and, where appropriate, to introduce more efficient systems to support the changing work loads.

The proposals being considered for the South Skye team include the closure of each surgery on a half day per week with cover being provided via the other site. They will not close on the same half day.

On the half day when the medical centres are not open for appointments, the buildings would remain open and GPs would carry out necessary paperwork, referrals and home visits as required.

Calls from patients phoning the GP on the afternoon their surgery was closed would go through to the sister site, where the staff would be able to support them with their inquiry and book appointments if required.

South Skye patients will be sent information on the new ways of working and opportunities will be given for closer engagement.

Ms Phimister added that patient representation had been sought to assist with the development of this proposal.

Angus Venters, who is Clinical Lead for Mid Highland CHP and a Sleat GP, said: “I am looking forward to even closer working with the whole primary care team.”

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme