Cumbria Crack

Reshaping Workington’s 5 GP Practices to meet the needs of the community

Professor John Howarth

Plans to bring Workington’s 5 GP Practices together to improve services to patients are being considered.

The five practices have worked together more closely over the last six years developing the Workington Primary Care Centre to improve same day services for people in the town, and have a shared home visiting service.

Now the five surgeries are exploring a more joined up approach which will make services more resilient for patients. Merging practices will give the opportunity to improve access to appointments and a wider range of health professionals, as well as support staff.

Dr Niall McGreevy is a GP at James Street Practice, but also leads the Workington Primary Care Network (PCN) – the collective primary care team in Workington.

Dr McGreevy said: “Workington is a tight-knit community and our five practices have supported each other more and more closely over the last six years.

“We all face growing pressures to support our patients, never more so than during 2020 when we have faced the challenge of Covid. We have only been able to get through the pressures of this year because of the way we work together and the support practices have been able to offer each other.

“It’s clear to me that we need to make this joint approach more formal so we can be sure all our patients are getting the best service we can offer. We also know we have some very small teams which are very stretched and we want our staff to be able to work in a more supported way.

“We want to start a conversation with our patients and our staff about what this could look like and how it could work.”

All of the practices are now operated by the North Cumbria Primary Care Alliance (NCPC) which was established last year as a not-for-profit organisation supporting general practice. The organisation now has 11 practices across north Cumbria.

Professor John Howarth is the medical director of NCPC. He said: “We have a fantastic opportunity here in Workington to try and do things differently and make improvements for patients and for our staff.

“General Practice has changed dramatically over the last 10 years and we know some of our smaller practices will struggle to recruit doctors and health professionals who are looking to be part of a bigger team.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to do things differently and involve our patients in building a better way of doing things.”

Patients can provide feedback by:

Dr McGreevy added: “We know patients will have lots of questions and we will answer them as openly as we can. This isn’t about closing a practice or a building. This is about looking at what we have and taking a new approach to making the most of them. We want to do that now before the situation gets more difficult. Doing nothing is not an option.”

Professor Howarth said: “We know that our patients and community will have really good ideas about how we could work better and we want to hear from everyone who has a view. We want to support general practice in Workington at this challenging time, and look at the opportunities to offer specialist clinics for patients with long term conditions or for standard health checks.”

The period of engagement will last until December 31 2020.

The feedback will be reviewed and helped to shape plans and shared back with patients in the new year.

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