Background

Yorkshire Health Partners (YHP), a federation of independent partner-led GP practices and a local partner of Humber Coast & Vale sustainability and transformation partnership (STP), aims to improve access to primary care services for patients across the East Riding of Yorkshire. It comprises 11 local member practices, and growing, across East Yorkshire, with a combined patient list in excess of 133,000 supported by 50 GPs.

Challenges

The high ratio of care homes to GP practices in the East Riding of Yorkshire led to a soaring number of resident referrals for assessment and treatment, placing excessive demand on practice teams.

Bridlington, East Yorkshire, has a high proportion of care homes to practices. As a result, GP practices in the area received a disproportionately high number of calls from the care homes compared to other areas, creating significant pressure on practices and their staff, and inefficiencies for care homes and residents.

To tackle these issues, establishing a single point of contact for care homes was needed, whilst also supporting digital enablement for care homes. The aim of the pilot programme was to identify whether a remote resource could alleviate the day-to-day pressures for local practices, by dealing with routine administration and clinical requests generated by care homes.

As Primary Care Networks (PCNs) embed Directed Enhanced Services (DES), there are obligations to deliver new service specifications, and the development of online services is a national priority.

Solution

The aim of the pilot programme was to identify whether a remote resource could alleviate the day-to-day pressures for local practices, by dealing with routine administration and clinical requests generated by care homes.

To overcome these challenges, YHP led an online GP consultation pilot programme using Engage Consult to successfully enhance efficiencies and improve access and turnaround, to facilitate better ways of working for GP surgeries and care homes.

Within a limited timeframe, online and video consultation platform Engage Consult was fully implemented. Administration and clinical staff at YHP managed incoming requests logged online by care homes using Engage Consult to streamline processes. Initial actions included dealing with admin queries, assigning to a paramedic or a YHP clinician for telephone or online video consultation. Secondary steps involved assigning to a GP practice if a home visit is required, or referral to the community team, emergency service, or secondary care.

The Result

Care homes are now digitally enabled as part of the pilot programme. Engage Consult enables a responsive service that facilitates a single point of contact (SPOC) and opens up different consultation methods as an innovative solution. It eliminates the need for paper-based recording and the subsequent time needed to phone requests through to GPs. Instead, care home staff record in real-time using online forms on any digital device; reducing administration and enabling staff to concentrate on frontline care.

Enhanced collaboration with other services has also been achieved, enabling greater access to more specialist care such as the frailty team.

This successful pilot can be replicated, and as a strong example of best practice, YHP shares learning with other PCNs that have adopted the same model for the SPOC element of the care home DES.

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