Primary care access recovery plan – what it means for you

Published: 25 May 2023

The NHS and Department of Health and Social Care have recently published their delivery plan for recovering access to Primary Care. 

This plan builds on work already happening locally, but further sets out how the NHS will make it easier and more convenient for patients to get the help they need from primary care services.

It will take time to safely make all the changes in the plan and we ask you to support us and work with your local practice, primary care network and patient groups as we continue on our journey of improvement. 

Please be assured that your GP practice team is always committed to providing the very best care that they can within the given resources. Primary care continues to work under enormous pressure where demand on their services frequently exceeds what is available.

The national delivery plan

The ICB is working with local practices and other parts of primary care to start working on the national delivery plans which will include:

  • For the first time ever, patients who need prescription medication will be able to get it directly from a pharmacy, without a GP appointment, for seven common conditions including earache, sore throat, or urinary tract infections.
  • People will be able to self-refer for key services, including physiotherapy, hearing tests, and podiatry, without seeing their GP first.
  • Further investment in better phone technology for GP teams. This will allow them to manage call queues including calling back patients rather than them having to wait on the phone. 
  • Staff at GP practices who are answering calls will have extra training so that they can prioritise patients who need to see a GP or arrange for people to see other healthcare staff who can help them.

What is already being done?

While we await further detail on the national plan in particular around the community pharmacy scheme, Hertfordshire and west Essex ICB will continue to work with primary care on an ambitious, well-established programme of work to support and transform our general practice and wider community services. This will mean we can better meet patient’s needs now and in the future.  We are currently finalising our primary care (general practice, dental community pharmacy and optometry) delivery plan for the next three years, which sets out the way in which primary care will work with community organisations other partners to deliver improved outcomes for everyone in Hertfordshire and west Essex.

Hopefully you will have already benefitted from some of these changes:

  • improved range of staff members in general practice meaning you don’t always need to wait to see a GP to if there is another professional to suit your needs, such as nurses, paramedic, pharmacists, healthcare assistants, and physiotherapists.
  • Many practice phone lines have been upgraded with more to come.
  • We have introduced a Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) which allows our specially trained practice reception staff to transfer you to a community pharmacist for a same-day appointment for minor illness or an urgent supply of a regular medicine. This makes it easier for patients to get the care they need quickly, and GP appointments are freed up for patients with more complex needs that can only be looked after by a GP.

Keeping involved

A great way to keep up-to-date and contribute to all of the work we are doing in relation to GP services, is to join your practice’s PPG (Patient Participation Group).  A PPG is a group of people who are registered with a GP practice and have volunteered to work with the practice to represent patients; most GP surgeries now have one.   The role of PPG members includes providing an important link between the practice and the patients which enables the practice to receive feedback on patient experience and ultimately to improve the ways they do things.