Our ambitious plan to improve access to primary care in North West London

4 March 2024

Dr Genevieve Small discusses the ambitious plan the NHS in North West London is introducing to improve access to primary care for local residents.

Northwest London is asking practices and Primary Care networks to think about introducing Same Day Access hubs.

This is going to be a process that they will talk to their patients about and talk amongst themselves of how best they introduce this, but we asking them to devote some time to deliver this sort of new way of working from April this year. That doesn't mean that care is going to change on the 1 of April 2024. It just means that they will have some time to devote to thinking about how they best serve their patients.

We want practices and Primary Care networks to make this change because we recognise that difficulty getting through to a GP or getting an appointment on the day is a real problem for the residents of north west London and we're looking at different ways of addressing it.

Where people need to see a GP they absolutely will. We are not changing the fantastically important relationship that patients have with their general practice and with their GPs. We are looking at ways of how we manage the different range of issues that patients present to general practice and how we can do that in a different way to free up GP time to make that more important connection with those people who need it.

In some of our pilot studies we found that actually they've been able to lengthen some GP appointments because they've had more time for the more complex issues that only a GP can deal with.

We have, in general practice, a range of highly expert clinical skilled staff. We also have fantastic support from non-clinical staff. It may be that your issue can be dealt with by one of the team who isn't a clinician and you will already know this by the fantastic help that our reception teams make in our general practices.

Where people need a clinician to be part of their care, that absolutely will still be completely available to them. This may be one of our practice nurses or a pharmacist or a GP, but we will make sure that we are making the right appointment available for our patients at the right time for them.

Many patients are concerned about whether these sorts of triage systems are safe but I can assure you that no clinical decision will be made without having a senior clinical decision maker. It is very important that patient safety is at the utmost of any changes that we make.

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