Below is a brief overview on a range of programmes and initiatives being developed and implemented by the Health and Social Care Board and our partners to help improve GP services.
The Department of Health have approved a Business Case allowing £17m funding to enable Practice Based Pharmacy support to be placed in GP Practices across Northern Ireland.
Pharmacists in GP practices will allow GPs more time to spend with patients and improve patient outcomes.
It will also improve the safety of prescribing, reduce the level of errors and waste through managing prescribing systems, medical reviews and reconciliation.
The initiative is a five year plan. There are currently 95.04 wte pharmacists in place. Further recruitment is currently in progress and it is anticipated that there will be a total of 150 wte in post by June 2017 (351 Pharmacists). This wte will increase to an expected 294 wte by the end of year five (financial year 2020/2021).
The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), is currently working with one of the local GP Federations, and a number of other bodies (Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery, and the University of Ulster), in planning the development of the first five Advanced Nurse Practitioners in Primary Care.
This is a pilot project and the impact within General Practice will be evaluated.
Implementation of askmyGP involves a launch programme to change a GP Practices internal processes over an estimated 12 week period. During the launch programme practices will implement a telephone triage system.
Implementation and operation of this system means that patients are given a rapid and safe service and GP productivity can rise by 20%. Once the telephone triage system is embedded the AskmyGP algorithm will be placed onto Practice websites.
The software/algorithm used by AskmyGP has been developed over 20 years and contains 80,000 evidence based questions. Patients access AskmyGP via a link from their GP practice website. The practice’s patients seek help by answering a series of questions about their symptoms. By answering a series of questions first the GP can quickly assess the best way to help the patient and avoid a visit to the surgery. Normally, a same day response is provided to the patient avoiding 2-3 week waits for an appointment, advice and treatment.
Implementation of AskmyGP across Northern Irelands GP Practices could present a number of benefits that will improve the delivery of services in Primary Care:
In 2016/17 the HSCB invested £250k in the pilot of askmyGP.
To date 15 practices have implemented askmyGP with a further 4 preparing to launch/go live over the next 6 weeks.
The HSCB has been working with nidirect to expand public facing online services and make them more readily available to citizens of the north of Ireland. Booking a GP appointment and ordering repeat prescriptions online are now available from 200 of 344 GP surgeries in the north.
Booking A GP Appointment Online: This service allows you to find it easier to access your GP surgery services. It will help you to ‘manage’ your own appointments whilst supporting the reduction of missed appointments and avoiding long telephone calls. The service also enables the surgery to align its resources more appropriately including freeing up receptionists to carry out other duties.
Ordering Repeat Prescription Online: Patients will have improved access to prescription services which will help them to better manage their health conditions. This service will reduce patient dependency on GP surgery opening hours, travel time and availability of practice staff to take calls and process prescriptions orders.