Top GP to help integrate health throughout England

A specialist GP has been appointed to help spread NHS innovations that integrate health and social care throughout England

Dr Karen Kirkham runs a practice in Dorset and specialises in women’s health. She will work with the wider GP community to spread tried and tested innovation and transformation techniques across the country, in order to bring the sector closer together.

She has been instrumental in setting up the Dorset Integrated Care System, where a new approach to integration of care for patients – one which brings together staff from local hospitals, community staff, general practice and the local authorities – is starting to pull the local health system together.

‘Virtual wards’ have led to a reduction in unplanned admissions to Dorset County Hospital – the lowest rate of the three acute trusts in the county. Now, the same approach is starting to be seen across the UK.

In her new role as national clinical advisor for primary care with the NHS England transformation team, Kirkham will visit places and learn about their innovations, taking that information to other areas and encouraging health professionals to adapt the successful models to their needs.

Kirkham said of her new role:

“I’m passionate about doing things differently and in Dorset already we’ve shown how by using new models of care can we make the patient experience so much better.

“I’m committed to strengthening primary care as the foundation of the NHS and I have a strong interest in integrating health and care services across the system.

“As part of this new role I want to ensure high quality and sustainable general practice as a fundamental building block within ICS, and develop population health analytics and management systems to provide the basis for intelligent decision-making.

“This is all about the patients. Our patients are changing and the NHS needs to adapt as well. To sustain us for the future we need to transform what we do so that we’re providing what people need.

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“I want to ensure that the founding principles on which the NHS was built are maintained but also that the NHS modernises and becomes once again a world leader in best health and care outcomes.”

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