Patients visiting their GP in West Sussex will be offered better access to specialist health services, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Surgeries and practices across West Sussex will come together to form teams to offer patients more convenient access to treatment and support from physios, therapists and other professionals, the NHS said.
By giving more people access to different types of care, the new Primary Care Networks (PCNs) aim to free up family doctors’ time to devote more time and attention to the sickest patients.
As part of the launch all the clinical directors, the PCNs leaders who are responsible for overseeing their effectiveness, from across Sussex and Surrey met to share learning and discuss how they can work most effectively together for their patients.
Across the country, around 7,000 GP practices have signed-up to the new model, supported by billions of pounds of extra investment in GP services.
As well as more convenient access to treatment without the need for a lengthy referral, GPs will be supported to do more to tackle killer conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, while also offering more support for people with conditions like depression and anxiety, by basing mental health therapists in surgeries.
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and NHS England’s acting medical director for primary care, said: “People in West Sussex will benefit from access to more convenient and specialist care through their local GP.
“As part of the Long Term Plan for the NHS, GP surgeries large and small will be working together to deliver more specialist services to patients.
“The extra investment, additional staff and more convenient care will be a game-changer for NHS patients and in West Sussex and across the country, family doctors are coming together in networks which will not only deliver better care, but a more efficient use of vital NHS resources.”
Setting up primary care networks across West Sussex is the foundation of improvements to NHS services set out in its Long Term Plan published in January.
To help family doctors deliver improved care, a new landmark agreement between GPs and national NHS leaders will see additional funding of £4.5 billion and the recruitment of 20,000 members of staff to support GPs, building on the increase of more than 5,000 extra practice staff working with GPs over the past four years.
The introduction of the Primary Care Network has been welcomed by director of primary care for the Sussex and East Surrey Clinical Commissioning Groups, Wendy Carberry.
She said it signalled the future direction of primary care and would make a ‘real difference’ to patients and staff.
“Practices have worked hard to set up PCNs and recognise it is an exciting opportunity to operate at scale, better manage financial and estate pressures and most importantly to provide a wider range of services to patients,” she said.
“It’s great to be able to bring all our Clinical Directors together at the start of this process to learn from each other and shape how their organisations develop. The fact that we are able to do this shows how well set we are for this development locally.
“This is just the beginning of the process. PCNs are expected to be the foundations on which the future closer integration between health and social care will be built.”