GP clusters – a step in the right direction?

GP clusters and the importance of strengthening them prove key focus at Cardiff Practice Management Conference hosted by healthcare law firm, VWV

The importance of GP clusters and strengthening the work done within them in order to effectively deliver services more centrally in primary care – where possible – was a key theme discusses Cardiff Practice Management Conference.

With many GP practices facing ongoing demands and workload in their day-to-day, more practices are choosing to work collaboratively to realise efficiencies.

In Wales there are over 14 primary care clusters; GP practices are working more in clusters – coordinating access to research and evaluation expertise – ensuring that health and care services are better coordinated and supported to deliver sustainable primary care to patients.

This requires recurrent funding and robust workforce training planning.

At the conference, Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of GPC Wales, stressed that clusters are here to stay”, adding that it is imperative for GP practices to make clusters work for them in order to collaboratively transform primary care, especially around the three key pressures: workforce, workload and resources. “Significant work is required in communicating the rationale for the cluster model, ensuring enthusiastic engagement, facilitate true collaboration and provide proper funding to support,” she said.

The Welsh government has committed to developing GP clusters; it will focus on addressing the key areas of priority mainly around indemnity, reducing GP workloads, uplift contracts, QOF and cluster network domain revisions, last man standing liabilities and the overall workforce, and will be followed by a wider review of the overall GMS contract.

The question that VWV put forward was, ‘Will the profession recover?’ Adding that, ‘Only time will tell – further dialogue and input by GPs and practice managers in particular at the various Welsh government boards remains a key objective.’

Other conference topics included an NWIS initiatives update having positive impact on practices such as ‘Choose Pharmacy’ and ‘My Health Online’ and use of IT from Head of Primary Care, Martin Dickinson, an general update from the CEO, Alex Howells of Health Education and Improvement Wales. This was followed by workshops consisting of Xytal Ltd’s change implementation in practices, the meaning of a healthier Wales for GPs from Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health, Alan Lawrie and National Director and Strategic Programme Lead for Primary Care, Sue Morgan, as well as getting your house in order by VWV Partner, Oliver Pool.

Ben Willis, who chaired the conference:

“I have always admired the resilience and adaptability of GP Practices – and those in Wales have had a very tough few years. The conference was an opportunity for Practice Managers and GPs to come together, listen to an informed group of speakers and to debate the issues they face. I do hope that all those who came felt that they learnt something of benefit to themselves and their practices.”

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